June marks National Audiobook Month, and poetry stands out as the perfect genre to help you celebrate. After all, poetry is known for its sense of rhythm, sound play, and experimentation with different types of rhyme, all of which rely on poems being read aloud. Plus, a poet’s words often hit harder when read in their own voice, a special experience that these audiobooks offer. Gain a deeper appreciation for some of the recent and most striking poetry releases by downloading them to listen to as part of your daily routine.
1. Unraveling by Brandon Leake
Brandon Leake became the first spoken word poet to win America’s Got Talent, catapulting spoken word to a larger, national stage. The audiobook edition of Unraveling makes it easier and more enjoyable to indulge in Leake’s craft, with each poem serving as its own high-energy performance. Unraveling is the perfect collection to listen to when starting or ending your day, as its poignant poems reflect on self-love, meditation, and compassion.
2. Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong
Time Is a Mother, Ocean Vuong’s fourth published collection, has already gained recognition for being the beloved poet’s most intimate and emotional release yet. The book’s diaristic nature makes listening to it even more powerful, as Vuong chronicles the shocking, complicated grief following his mother’s death and considers weighty, fascinating themes like diaspora and immigration.
3. Olio Live by Tyehimba Jess
Tyehimba Jess’s Olio, which won a Pulitzer Prize, could be called one of poetry’s most ambitious and significant releases of all time. It could also be called one of the most musical—the sprawling collection elevates the voices of influential but largely forgotten Black performers from the pre-Civil War era to World War II. Olio takes readers on a soulful and searing journey told through hymns, blues, and work songs, showcasing how these musical traditions encompass Black struggle, tradition, and resistance. Olio Live, recorded at the Minetta Lane Theatre, brings together multiple narrators and piano accompaniment to fully embody these musical roots.
4. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire
Warsan Shire has collaborated with Beyoncė on Lemonade and Black Is King, a testament to how she’s explored the sonic and multimodal power of poetry throughout her career. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head, which Shire published in 2022, takes a heartbreaking look at a neglectful upbringing, as well as a young woman’s resilient journey to motherhood in spite of it. The collection reads like poetry but also like memoir, making Shire’s pivotal narration even more impactful.
5. The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón
Ada Limón became the host of The Slowdown, an award-winning poetry podcast, in 2021. Fans tune in from all over the world to listen to Limón’s thoughtful, soothing narration—and now they’ll get to hear her read the audio edition of The Hurting Kind, her most recent collection. In The Hurting Kind, Limón pays tribute to sensitive people, those most connected with the natural world, and those processing grief. The result is a radically empathetic and comforting book you’ll want to listen to no matter what you’re going through.
Happy listening! Need more recommendations? Check out last year’s National Audiobook Month roundup.