32 Best Poetry Audiobooks

When you think about audiobooks, your first thought probably isn’t poetry. I didn’t realize until recently just how many poetry audiobooks are available. Poetry was always one of my weaker interests, but only because I didn’t know my options or much about the genre. But that changed after I discovered poetry audiobooks.

Sometimes when reading poetry, it can be difficult to get the rhythm right and get the most meaning out of each poem as possible, the way the poet intended. With a poetry audiobook, it’s so much easier to read a poem correctly and get all of the emotion and story that comes across. Plus, poetry really comes in handy when you’re looking for short, immersive audiobooks.

Below are some of the best poetry audiobooks out there; some are collections, some are classics, and some are works by modern poets or well-known celebrities. At the end, there’s a bonus list of audiobooks about writing poetry yourself, if listening to these poems inspires you to do so.

Table Of Contents
  1. Best Poetry Audiobooks
  2. Bonus: Audiobooks on How to Write Poetry

Best Poetry Audiobooks

Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 43 minutes

Ocean Vuong is a prolific poet—he’s a recipient of the 2019 MacArthur “Genius” Grant, winner of the 2017 T.S. Eliot prize, and a New York Times bestselling author for his novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. Vuong is known for his beautiful language and storytelling talent, and his second poetry collection is no different.

These poems were written after the loss of his mother and tackle one of the strongest and hardest human emotions—grief. Vuong uses his poetry to grapple with life’s fragility, what family means to him, and how to move forward in the world and his life. This is a collection of poems that cuts right to your heart in the best of ways.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman

Narrated by the poet with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey, 9 minutes

This short audiobook is a recording of Amanda Gorman’s poetry reading at President Biden’s inauguration in 2021. “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country” reflects a wise, young mind who is very in tune with what the United States is—and what it should be and needs to be in order to succeed.

Gorman’s delivery of her poetry is powerful and melodic. Though the audiobook is short, it’s a great listen, especially if you’re looking to feel hopeful or inspired. I highly recommend checking out her poetry collection, Call Us What We Carry, as well.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 32 minutes

Courtney Peppernell may be one of my favorite poets of the last few years. I first encountered her work when browsing the shelves at my local library, immediately intrigued by the jellyfish on the cover. I related deeply with her poems about romance, heartbreak, love, and all of the raw emotions that come with personal connections.

Listening to her poetry added a whole new element of my appreciation for Peppernell’s poetic mind. She does a fantastic job at portraying all of the emotions you feel radiating off of the page. She has multiple poem collections in her Pillow Thoughts series, which are all worth visiting time and again.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

If They Come for Us by Fatima Asghar

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 22 minutes

Poetry is known for its ability to tackle both raw human emotion and difficult political and cultural topics, and Fatima Asghar’s collection fits right in. A finalist for the Lambda Literary Award, If They Come for Us chronicles Asghar’s life as a young Pakistani Muslim woman in America who was orphaned as a child. It’s a fantastic play with poetic form and an analysis of what identity means—when it’s fixed, when it’s flexible, and what it means to be marginalized. I’d say this is required listening for all, especially those more privileged.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

I Would Leave Me If I Could. by Halsey

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 32 minutes

Halsey is a platinum-selling, Grammy-award nominated superstar musician and multi talented artist. Her music about personal experiences, tough relationships, and emotional hardships have resonated with millions of people, and her songwriting is literally award-winning. So it’s no surprise that her poetry is just as impactful and powerful.

I’ll admit that I’m not as big a fan of Halsey as others because I’m not as into the music genre she dominates, but I really enjoyed her poetry selection here. It covers much of the same content as her songs, but somehow even deeper and more emotionally raw.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems by Pablo Neruda

Narrated by C. S. Verdád, 1 hour 54 minutes

If you’re interested in activism, poetry, or politics, you may have already heard of Pablo Neruda. One of the biggest influences in Chile of his time, Neruda started writing poetry at the age of 13, became a journalist and writer at 16, and rocketed to fame from there. In 1971, he won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his achievements and artistry.

The Essential Neruda contains 50 of his most essential, moving poems and covers many of his styles and themes throughout the years. C. S. Verdád does a fantastic job at portraying the emotion and feeling of Neruda’s words.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

Leaves of Grass: The Original 1855 Edition by Walt Whitman

Narrated by Sam Torode, 4 hours 40 minutes

Any English student has heard of Walt Whitman; he’s a common poet to study in many poetry units across the globe, and for good reason. Famous for his mastery of transcendentalism and realism, his writing was far before his time. Leaves of Grass in particular was actually banned in many cities in the United States, some shortly after it was published, because of its frank discussion of sensuality and sexuality. Now, though, while it’s still banned in some places, it’s nationally recognized as one of the most important collections of American poetry today.

There are many audiobook versions of Leaves of Grass, but this one is my favorite. Sam Torode provides a solid performance that allows room for reflection and enjoyment.

Listen on Audible

Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life by Cleo Wade

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 35 minutes

If you haven’t heard of Cleo Wade yet, I’m so excited to introduce you to her work. Dubbed the “Millennial Oprah” by New York Magazine, Cleo moves from her popular Instagram account to a book of poetry that anyone can find some inspiration and comfort in. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite lines from her poetry:

“Baby, you are the strongest flower that ever grew; remember that when the weather changes.”

I recommend following her Instagram account, too. Amidst all of the stress in the world, her posts provide some welcome levity and love.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

Narrated by the poet, 22 minutes

Maya Angelou is one of the biggest names in civil rights and modern literature, and it takes just one page of her work to see why. From incredible children’s books and memoirs to the classics I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou is a force to be reckoned with, even 10 years after her passing in 2014.

I’ve read much of her work, but And Still I Rise is one of my personal favorites—and I don’t think anyone but Maya herself could put the right voice to her poetry, so I’m thrilled she narrates this one. Out of all the poetry audiobooks in this list, if you only have time for one or two, make this one of them. And if you’re interested in learning even more about this legendary writer, PBS has a documentary of her life with the same title as this book of poetry.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

The Poets’ Corner: The One-and-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family compiled by John Lithgow

Narrated by John Lithgow and multiple special guests including Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, and Susan Sarandon, 6 hours 31 minutes

The Poets’ Corner is a special collection for listeners both brand new to poetry and more seasoned readers looking to reflect on a classic favorite. The extra special treat is the extra content with each poem. Each poet has a little introductory section from John Lithgow’s point of view, with a list of some of his personal favorite poems by the poet.

Each poem in this collection is billed as one of Lithgow’s favorites, and he intentionally chose poets that were very different from each other, so everyone is almost guaranteed to find something they enjoy.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 34 minutes

Chen Chen’s debut poetry book, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, was longlisted for the National Book Award for Poetry, a winner of the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, and on NPR’s List of “Poetry to Pay Attention To” in 2017, and for good reason.

This poetry collection really hits home in more ways than one. It’s beautifully written and performed, yes, but the real strength of Chen’s craft comes from his honesty about life as a queer Asian American struggling with the loss of his mother and his complicated feelings around it. Many of us know what it’s like to have a strained relationship with their parents and family, and just as many know what it’s like to feel the complicated emotion of grief.

Chen’s performance in this audiobook is emotional, heart wrenching, and simultaneously inspiring. I highly recommend it.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

If My Body Could Speak by Blythe Baird

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 3 minutes

Blythe Baird is one of the biggest names in modern spoken word poetry. She’s beautifully raw and honest with her poetry, and speaks candidly about mental illness, trauma, sexual assault, and other important issues.

If these topics are sensitive to you, maybe hold off until you’re ready—but when you are, boy is it worth the listen.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

(also available on Everand only as an ebook)

The Poems of T.S. Eliot by T.S. Eliot

Narrated by Jeremy Irons, 3 hours 41 minutes

Actor Jeremy Irons is known for his gravitas—in film, radio, stage, television… even audiobooks. His narration of The Poems of T.S. Eliot will have you on the edge of your seat.

If you’ve read any T.S. Eliot in the past, you know just how deep, emotional, and difficult his poetry is. With themes ranging from anxiety and death to rebirth and the philosophy of time, poems like “The Waste Land” can be difficult reads. Jeremy Irons’ narration keeps all of it engaging and breathes fresh life into them, even if you’ve read these poems dozens of times before.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

Dog Songs and A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 25 minutes

I’m going to try to not cry while I write about this one, but I’ll probably fail. This is always the case with Mary Oliver’s works, especially ones about her dogs. As someone who didn’t have any pets when she grew up, but has a dog with her partner now, anything about dogs always reaches a tender part of my heart.

Mary Oliver writes and narrates a beautiful celebration of the love and bond between human and human’s best friend. She talks about the energy that dogs bring into your life and the way they fill your home with warmth, encourage you to stay in the present moment, and remind you that these bonds are worth experiencing—even when you lose them.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 19 minutes

As a millennial, how could I not include Rupi Kaur in this list?

To me, Rupi Kaur’s works are much better experienced by listening than by reading. I enjoyed all of her works, but milk and honey is my favorite. Her ability to write about all of life’s chapters—from the sourest moments to the sweetest ones—is rooted in the desire to heal personal and generational pain.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

Clarity and Connection by Yung Pueblo

Narrated by the poet, 4 hours 4 minutes

I came across Yung Pueblo’s work in late 2022, as I was attempting to reach my yearly reading goal and wanted to cross the finish line with some shorter poetry. I thought Clarity and Connection would serve that purpose, but I couldn’t have been more wrong, and that’s a good thing.

Yung Pueblo’s writing invites—nearly requires—you to take things slower and process each message and meaning. For this volume, he focuses on loving relationships: what they are, what they aren’t, and how to reclaim what you deserve. I loved the focus on keeping a loving relationship with yourself, something all of us should always work on.

If you love this title, I highly recommend his other work: Inward, The Way Forward, and Lighter.

Listen on Audible

(also available on both Everand and Libro.fm in different languages)

Fierce Fairytales: Poems and Stories to Stir Your Soul by Nikita Gill

Narrated by the poet, 2 hours 43 minutes

A lot of the most popular poets today are also Instagram sensations, and Nikita Gill is no different. This one is a little bit of a blend between poetry and prose, but the focus on fairy tales makes it all feel equally poetic. Instead of a simple rewrite or reciting of traditional fairy tales, Nikita takes some classics and gives them a modern, feminist spin. Damsels in distress? You won’t find any in these stories.

This one is worth grabbing the physical copy, too, to read along. Nikita Gill has drawn some amazing illustrations to go along with her poetry.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

Lord of the Butterflies by Andrea Gibson

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 39 minutes

I know we shouldn’t judge books by their covers but… come on, isn’t this one gorgeous?? Lord of the Butterflies is, firstly, a great reference to the novel Lord of the Flies, and it’s also an incredible collection of poetry all about the relationships that make us human—romance, family both born into and found, and with things larger than ourselves.

Butterflies are beautiful and delicate, yes—but they’re also incredibly strong and deft. The same can be said for Andrea Gibson’s poetry and performance in this audiobook.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

(also available on Everand only as an ebook)

Life of the Party by Olivia Gatwood

Narrated by the poet, 2 hours 33 minutes

Olivia Gatwood is a huge poetic force, as Life of the Party proves. Born from the #MeToo movement and constant violence—and romanticization of that violence—towards women, these poems discuss how girls are expected to grow up in this kind of environment. How does this attitude, portrayed in much of the popular media and reinforced by the news, affect girls as they age? How does it affect their perceptions of themselves? And how can we stop the bleeding?

Emotional and heavy on their own, these poems express even more strength and feeling with Olivia Gatwood’s narration. It’s a must-listen.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana Del Rey

Narrated by the poet, 36 minutes

Fans of Lana Del Rey’s ethereal, unique music and voice will certainly be a fan of her book of poetry, Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass. These poems discuss the smaller, simpler things in life, and the beauty that lies in noticing and nurturing them. Her writing helps us realize that all the little experiences that make us feel so alone and unseen are actually experienced by many.

The audiobook comes with a special treat: accompaniment written and performed by Grammy Award-winning musician Jack Antonoff, whom Lana Del Rey has collaborated with in the past.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

Narrated by the poet, 30 minutes

If you take a look at the reviews for Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, you’ll see almost complete agreement in one thing—the imagery in Warsan Shire’s poetry is intensely realistic, vibrant, and moving. In just a short half-hour of poetry, she provides a beautiful performance of her works, discussing the “veiled world” where sensuality lives in the world of Islam. It’s very much worth listening to.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay

Narrated by the poet, 2 hours 15 minutes

Live version narrated by the poet, 33 minutes

No Matter the Wreckage is a collection of poems from poet Sarah Kay’s first decade of her career. It’s a collection that covers everything from family, traveling, love and romance, and even the “unlikely romance between inanimate objects.” (Not kidding: Check out “The Toothbrush and the Bicycle Tire.”) Many reviewers call these poems inspiring and charming, and I have to agree. This was a wonderful listen.

As a bonus, there’s also a separate live version of Sarah Kay’s performance at The Wild Project in New York City in 2018, which presents parts of No Matter the Wreckage if you’d like a more bite-sized experience.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

Listen to the live version on Audible or Libro.fm

Black Girl, Call Home by Jasmine Mans

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 52 minutes

One of my biggest goals of the last five years is to read content about and from worlds that I have not—and will not—experience. There’s only one way to learn more about people different from you, and that’s by hearing what they have to say, directly from them. Black Girl, Call Home is a beautiful example of a piece of poetry that achieves that goal.

Jasmine Mans holds absolutely nothing back—and while I can relate to some of what she goes through as a woman and as a queer woman, I can never relate to what she goes through as a Black woman. But I can read, and I can listen. I implore you to do the same. I’ll sum it up with this review from Jericho Brown, Pulitzer Prize-winning author: “You are carrying in your hands a Black woman’s heart.”

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

Heavy Is the Head by Sumaya Enyegue

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 43 minutes

This one comes with a few trigger warnings: mental health issues, sexual assault, and generational trauma.

From the description, readers and listeners alike immediately know what they’re getting into; within these pages, you won’t find answers or healing for these problems, but you will have to confront your own healing. This isn’t an easy listen, and it’s not designed to be—but at the end, you’ll walk away with lessons on moving forward. Sumaya Enyegue doesn’t just shy away, she leans into the heaviness of the human experience and commands our attention in a really compelling and beautiful way.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) by Barbara Kingsolver

Narrated by the poet, 2 hours 13 minutes

You may recognize Barbara Kingsolver because of her successful novels like The Poisonwood Bible, Demon Copperhead, and Prodigal Summer. She’s a Pulitzer Prize winner, a New York Times bestselling author, and as it turns out, a pretty incredible poet.

How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons) is actually Kingsolver’s second poetry collection. In it, her unique ability to harness the beauty of nature and the environment in the written (and spoken) word is put on display, and her poems are a mix of “how to” poems around things like getting married and divorced, praying to unreliable gods, and even doing nothing at all. At its core, this poetry collection is about transcendence, and Kingsolver’s narrative performance highlights this theme beautifully.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome by Deepak Chopra, Kabir Sehgal, and Paul Avgerinos

Narrated by Deepak Chopra, MD, 2 hours 8 minutes

Home: Where Everyone Is Welcome is a beautiful poetry collection with poems from immigrants and first generation Americans, and is meant to remind readers and listeners of the history of the United States—and how rooted in that history immigrants are. During a time when the national dialogue around these topics is more heated than ever, Home provides a bright, welcoming beacon to all.

Narrated by Deepak Chopra, himself an immigrant who was born in New Delhi, India; Kabir Sehgal, a first generation American with both parents from India; and Paul Avgerinos, a first generation American whose father emigrated from Greece, this poetry collection—with the occasional musical accompaniment and song—should hit home for any American looking towards the future.

Listen on Audible or Libro.fm

Some Things I Still Can’t Tell You by Misha Collins

Narrated by the poet, 57 minutes

Even though I’m a multi-passionate person myself, for some reason it always surprises me when famous actors publish their own novels or poetry collections. While I haven’t watched Supernatural myself, I have a few friends who are obsessed with it; sharing the news that Misha Collins published a book of poetry was a very welcome surprise for them.

It’s another poetry collection all about the little things in life, but Misha’s has some hilarious twists and commentary that make it a standout read. Even if you don’t know who Misha Collins is, I would still recommend this one.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

And Yet by Kate Baer

Narrated by the poet, 55 minutes

You may have heard of What Kind of Woman, Kate Baer’s first poetry collection and an absolutely explosive work about women of all ages and backgrounds. Her second collection, And Yet, is just as incredible as the first, and Baer is no victim to a sophomore slump or “second book syndrome.”

This collection dives even deeper into the themes that were introduced in her first collection. Motherhood, friendship, loss, love, and everything in between are captured in these poems, and Baer performs them beautifully. 

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

Every Word You Cannot Say by Iain S. Thomas

Narrated by the poet and Roshina Ratnam, 2 hours

Millions and millions of people around the world suffer from a number of mental and physical conditions, and many of them feel like they have no one to talk to or lean on for help. Sometimes, they can’t even say it to themselves. Every Word You Cannot Say is for every single one of those people.

Iain S. Thomas uses his own lived experiences to put a light on mental health, self-compassion, and self-acceptance. You can tell just how emotionally tied to his words he is when you listen to the audiobook. This authenticity is part and parcel for all of his works.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

Dearly: New Poems by Margaret Atwood

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 46 minutes

Like many, I was introduced to Margaret Atwood through her most popular novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. I knew she was a prolific novelist and the recipient of a whole host of awards, including the Booker Prize and the Franz Kafka International Literary Prize—but I had no idea she was also a poet until I came across this audiobook.

Published in 2020, Dearly is a collection shared at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, a time where everyone was craving connection and love. The poems in this collection touch on a lot of the themes that resonated when we were all quarantined in our homes: love, loss, the passage of time, and human nature.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

The Half-God of Rainfall by Inua Ellams

Narrated by the poet, 1 hour 17 minutes

If you’re craving a tale with a little bit of power, female revenge, a mother’s love, and a touch of supernaturalism, The Half-God of Rainfall is just for you. Unlike a lot of the selections in this list, Inua Ellams’ work is more like an epic poem or narrative poem than a poetry collection.

Ellams’ narration is a powerful force and breathes so much life into her characters. Centering around half Nigerian mortal, half Grecian god Demi and his mother, Modupe, The Half-God of Rainfall is a compelling story about family, female strength, and the sheer power of a mother’s love.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

Promises of Gold by José Olivarez

Narrated by the poet, 5 hours 44 minutes

One of the longest collections in this list, Promises of Gold is an incredible feat in poetry. Technically two books in one—narrated in both English and Spanish—José Olivarez gives the spotlight to what he calls “hyphenated Americans” and their lived experiences. In particular, his poems discuss how every element of a person’s life can be deeply affected by societal issues like gender, capitalism, and migration.

Many of the reviews for Promises of Gold call it accessible and “poetry newbie friendly,” and I definitely agree with those sentiments. If you’re looking for something powerful and lyrical, this audiobook is for you.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

Bonus: Audiobooks on How to Write Poetry

How to Write a Poem by HowExpert

Narrated by Rebecca Cromer, 39 minutes

How to Write a Poem is a great kickstarter for budding poets and even those looking for a refresher on the form. You’ll learn all of the important vocabulary around poetry forms and styles, and you’ll learn things like rhyming with couplets, sonnet structure, alternating rhymes with quatrains, and so much more. There are even a few exercises to get started and see what style of poetry works best for you.

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

How a Poem Moves: A Field Guide for Readers of Poetry by Adam Sol

Narrated by the author and Soraya Peerbaye, 5 hours 22 minutes

Once you have all of the basics down, How a Poem Moves is a smart next step. It’s a collection of essays that help new poets learn to analyze and criticize the poems they read, in order to learn what they like and don’t like for their own poems. It’s like a free crash college course on poetry analysis.

This audiobook is also for those not looking to write poetry, but those looking to appreciate poetry more. If you’ve always thought poetry was an intimidating art form, this audiobook is for you!

Listen on Everand, Audible, or Libro.fm

Poetry in Person: Twenty-Five Years of Conversation with America’s Poets edited by Alexander Neubauer

Narrated by the editor, 5 hours 55 minutes

Once you learn the basics of poetry and are better able to analyze poems, it might really help you to learn more about famous poets—Robert Pinsky, James Merrill, Lucille Clifton, Edward Hirsch, Paul Muldoon, Muriel Rukeyser, Eamon Grennan, and William Matthews—and their crafting strategies.

Pearl London, a teacher at the New School in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, invited famous poets to lecture in her classes between 1973 and 1998. This audiobook is a result of eight of those poets and chronicles their conversations with London’s students about writing drafts, finalizing manuscripts, commentary on their writing process, and even readings of the finished poems. This audiobook is a real treat and a little like getting in a time machine. It’s a great listen for poets and readers alike.

Listen on Audible

What are the best poetry audiobooks you’ve enjoyed? Please share your favorites in the comments section below.

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