This week on From the Vault we present a 1956 reading with Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Robert Frost.
Born in San Francisco in 1874, Frost would spend his early years in urban Massachusetts, and then working on a family farm in New Hampshire, where he found plenty of inspiration for his poetry from rural observation, but little financial success in either farming or poetry. Discouraged, he moved to England in 1912 with the hopes of finding a new market for his literary talents; there, Frost finally found a publisher for his first collection, and subsequently built friendships with poets Ezra Pound and Edward Thomas – who offered Frost advice, inspiration, and encouragement. When Frost eventually returned back to the United States, he found that publishers were now more than happy to work with him, resulting in prosperity and, ultimately, four Pulitzer Prizes.
Then, in his 80’s, Frost made his way back to Berkeley, California to give a poetry reading, which was broadcast on Pacifica Station KPFA on June 11, 1956. From this incredible and insightful reading we are left with an amazing historic recording, which we proudly feature in this episode of From the Vault. Frost, on occasion, stops mid-poem to offer up insight and witty anecdotes about his intentions and creative motivations, making for an exceptionally unique and authoritative study of the poets own work.
This particular recording was brought to our attention thanks to an inquiry by KPFK Program Director Alan Minsky; we start with his story about what motivated him to seek out this jewel in our collection.
From the Vault is presented as part of the Pacifica Radio Archives Preservation and Access Project, funded in part by an award from the GRAMMY Foundation and the National Historical Publications and Records Commission at the National Archives and Records Administration, and past grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, and the American Archive funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, along with the generous support of Pacifica Radio Listeners. We also thank our partners and collaborators at the Pop-Up Archive, Amara, Other Minds Archives, George Blood Audio, and the California Audio Visual Preservation Project.
PURCHASE a copy of this program or learn more about the historic archival recordings used within this episode. To purchase a CD copy of this program by phone, please call Pacifica Radio Archives at 800.735.0230 x 262.