I love the idea of archiving poems-as-voice, and absolutely think more states and entities and people should do it. So yay, Oregon!
What I do argue with, however, is the seemingly universal notion that the best way to aurally present a poem is to have its author read it aloud.
So not true. Just take a listen.
What Oregon (and other collectives looking to create aural poetic archives – are you listening, people?) should do is actively look for and select those among them who read well and have them volunteer to read for everyone else.
Screen writers and playwrights don’t act their own films and plays. Fashion designers don’t model their own clothes. They look for people with the specific talents and attributes acting or modeling requires. My argument is that to do their own work justice, poets should do the same.
It’s not as if good readers are desperately scarce – like good actors or good models, they most definitely are not. All that is required is the baseline intellectual/emotional acknowledgment that most poets just don’t read aloud well – just as most playwrights or fashion designers aren’t good actors or good models.
And a decision to proceed accordingly.