Robert Frost Reads His Own Poetry 1956

This week on From the Vault we present a 1956 poetry reading with 4-time Pulitzer Prize winning poet Robert Frost.

Who thinks Robert Frost is an old stodgy iambic pentameter irrelevant poet..? Well I will argue that Robert Frost began the modern Occupy Movement over 70 years ago…

“Make the whole Stock Exchange your own
If need be…. Occupy a throne”

– Robert Frost from his poem Provider Provider

He is pretty funny in this recording… knowing that he was pals with Ezra Pound and other poets that were breaking the chains of traditional poetic structure said that he’d “no sooner write free verse than play tennis without a net”.. haha he’s pretty witty even in his 80’s.

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco in 1874 and continued living a relatively urban lifestyle in Massachusetts until 1900. In that year Frost’s grandfather bought him a small farm in New Hampshire where he began a failed farming endeavor, but more importantly began to write poetry from his rural observations. He sold the farm in 1912 and moved to England, where he believed he had his best chance to sell his poetry.

Frost’s plan worked, as he found a Publisher to print his first book of poetry A Boy’s Will at the age of 38. But the more significant event happened when he met and friended two poets, Ezra Pound and Edward Thomas. It was their support and encouragement that proved the missing element to move his poetry to respectability in the Publishing world. In particular, Edward Thomas, a poetry critic and poet himself would go on walks with Frost in the English countryside. It was on one of these walks that Frost was inspired to write maybe his most famous poem The Road Not Taken. Sadly Edward Thomas was killed in World War I while on a mission in France.

When Robert Frost returned back home to America, Publishers were now ready to work with Frost, including work they had turned down prior to his move to England.

4 Pulitzer Prize’s later, Robert Frost is back In Berkeley California to give a poetry reading that is broadcast on Pacifica Station KPFA on June 11, 1956. This is an incredible reading as Frost takes the time to tell witty anecdotes about his life and his poems.

Poems read include
– One Step Backward Taken
– A Peck of Gold
– Once by the Pacific
– The Runaway
– Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
– The Death of the Hired Man (rare reading)
– A Silken Tent
– Why Wait For Science? (he explains he was friends with Wilbur Wright)
– Etherializing
– Provide Provide
– Departmental
– The Road Not Taken
– A Considerable Speck

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