The “Poetry for All” podcast, hosted by Abram Van Engen and Joanne Diaz, has passed 10,000 downloads and is now in the top 5% of podcasts globally per listen. The podcast was started mid-2020 during the height of the pandemic to provide listeners with glimpses of art during a difficult time as well as help educators teaching literature remotely for the first time.
Van Engen, professor of English and dean’s fellow for educational innovations and initiatives, explained that poetry speaks to all kinds of people. “We especially wanted to invite those who had long ago set poetry aside as seemingly too difficult, weird, indirect, or obtuse,” he said. “We wanted to show why that perception is not true, and how poets in many different ways speak directly to our hearts and minds and hopes and fears.”
As the podcast’s listenership has grown over the past year, it has accumulated readers from across the world, with people tuning in from India, Australia, and many other countries.
“We have enthusiastic messages from teachers,” Van Engen said. “We have testimonies from people who are for the first time in a long time reading poetry again. And the people writing us are not just literature lovers: they are drawn from every field and career, finding time in a busy day for a few minutes of talk about a single great poem, and discovering in our discussions just how vital poetry can be to shaping our daily lives.”
For more about the evolution of the “Poetry for All” podcast, listen to an interview with Van Engen and Diaz from St. Louis Public Radio. "Poetry for All" will return with new episodes in early September.
The most recent episode of "Poetry for All" highlights a poem by Robert Hayden.