The following is an article from The Daily Pennsylvanian. The article can be found here.
Poetry greats available free -- for download
'PennSound' site run by Kelly Writers House offers up digital files of poetry readings
By CICI ZHENG
January 10, 2005
In an age where music, movies and books are often illegally downloaded off the internet, a new Web site now makes it possible to legally download spoken poetry for free.
PennSound -- a digital archive of poetry readings with over 1,500 poems -- debuted on Jan. 1. The Web site was developed through the Kelly Writers House but can be accessed by the general public. Poems can be downloaded individually, like songs, right to an MP3 player or a hard drive.
"PennSound was born out of our thinking about the controversy stirred up by the music industry's reluctance to make music singles available for download," said Al Filreis, who is an English professor and one of PennSound's co-directors.
"The University ought to be a place where art and knowledge can be made free to anyone that wants it," Filreis said. "The University should be a place where unmarketable products can be made available because we believe in knowledge and ... making art and culture available."
As one of only a handful of Web sites of this nature, PennSound not only serves as a means for people to listen to poetry read by the authors themselves, but also as a tool that teachers may use to enhance a lesson or a means for relatively unknown poets to get name recognition.
"I think it should enhance the teaching of 20th century poetry ... because it makes available dimensions of work that previously was difficult to get a hold of," said Charles Bernstein, an English professor and the other co-director of PennSound. "Penn is really providing a model for both teaching and engaging with modern poetry."
The project took almost a year and a half to complete and more pieces are constantly being added. The Web site reported 3,093 hits on its first official day, and PennSound directors say that interest has continued to grow.
To get the poems on the Web, many had to be converted from CDs and tapes while others needed to be recorded for the first time.
Kun Jia, a College junior, played a key role in the production part of the project. But aside from the technological tasks, as an English major she said she appreciates the value of listening to a poet read his or her own work.
"It's really very different listening to the audio as opposed to reading the text ... it's pretty exciting," Jia said.
Although she said she initially was not a fan of contemporary poetry, she now finds it "a lot more enjoyable and a lot more comprehensible."
Students and poetry fans are not the only ones that benefit from PennSound.
Ron Silliman, a poet whose work is featured on the Web site, said he believes PennSound is a great resource.
"From my perspective, the real value of PennSound isn't that it's got my work on it," Silliman said. "It's that I can go on the site and find work there -- some of which is quite rare."
As a poet, he believes that PennSound is an excellent way to attract "people who are only marginally curious" about poetry.
"It's a library without walls, a very open system," Bernstein said.
Jia echoed Bernstein's sentiments.
"Who would think that you can put poetry on your iPod?" she said.