Library Blog

If Only We're Brave Enough: Voices for Our Time

Monday, July 26, 2021

Stories are one of the few things that connect us together. It is a joy to us as a library to listen to and share stories that need to be highlighted. May we always listen to stories: stories that inspire, stories that change us, stories that embrace the beauty of cultures and the world, and so much more. We hope to hear more stories and to highlight them. Libraries are community, for everyone.

As Maya Angelou once said, “There is no greater agony than an untold story inside you.”

To do our part, here is a selection from around the Internet of authors reading and speaking about their work. Several are writers that we featured in our Black Literature Matter events, highlighting voices that bring to light experiences from the horrors of racial injustice that has been ongoing since the days of slavery in the United States, but also other important themes like family, love, and joy that are both specific and incredibly universal. To become an inclusive world is to embrace the world’s diversity and to find out we have similarities too.

Any list like this is partial. There are many great people we wish we could add to it! Please listen to these stories, and remember to listen to and tell your own.

Maya Angelou
Still I Rise

James Baldwin
 James Baldwin on Love  
An hour of Baldwin reading from his works, from the Library of Congress

Amiri Baraka
Selections from PennSound Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing
Selections from Naropa Poetics Audio Archives 

Jorge Luis Borges
The Gospel According to Mark (read by author Paul Theroux)
The Library of Babel (read by admin / mod of A Poetry Channel)

Gwendolyn Brooks
Reading at the Guggenheim Museum, 1983
We Real Cool, from

Octavia E. Butler
Interview: Transcending Barriers
Interview on Science Fiction Writing

Louise Bennett-Coverley
Dinky and "Anancy & Yellow Snake"
Miss Lou talks Jamaican proverbs

Edwidge Danticat
Interview: On Immigrant Writers
#ArtIsJustice: Edwidge Danticat on how literature connects us

Ralph Ellison
Reading from a novel in progress, from the Library of Congress
Dorcas Speer Interviews Author Ralph Ellison

Robert Frost
The Road Not Taken

Amanda Gorman
The Hill We Climb, from the presidential inaguration, January 2021 (shown in sidebar)

Joy Harjo
I Give You Back (a poem to get rid of fear)
Perhaps the World Ends Here

E.M. Forster read by Ian McEwan
Gustave Flaubert read by Judith Thurman
An excerpt from Italo Calvino, read by Salman Rushdie
An excerpt from William Shakespeare, read by Donna Tartt
Claude McKay

Pablo Neruda
Arte Poetica (in Spanish)

Arundhati Roy
The Role of the Writer

Amy Tan
The opening pages of The Joy Luck Club

J.R.R. Tolkien
The Ride of the Rohirrim

Malala Yousafzai
Nobel Prize Speech - "The right to learning should be given to any child"

Malcolm X
On Police Brutality

Markus Zusak
On books and the freedom to read

There is always light.
Only if we are brave enough to see it.
There is always light.
Only if we are brave enough to be it.”

~Amanda Gorman


  • Maya Angelou reciting her poem "On the Pulse of Morning" at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993 (Courtesy of William J. Clinton Presidential Library)
  • Ralph Ellison, 1961, by Stephen Winick, United States Information Agency staff photographer
  • Amy Tan, American author known for her 1989 novel The Joy Luck Club
  • Markus Zusak signs books for fans at the National Book Festival, August 31, 2019. Photo by Edmond Joe (for the Library of Congress)

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