Poetry readings are notorious for putting audiences to sleep. Which is why Poems Out Loud‘s devotion to the notion of experiencing poetry read aloud—and read well—is so thrilling. The site was inspired by Robert Pinksy’s just-published book Essential Pleasures: A New Anthology of Poems to Read Aloud. Not to be confused with slam or spoken word poetry (which can be more performance art than poetry), the poems read here exist first and foremost on the page. But taking a poem in this way—many of the poems are read by the poet who wrote them—permits us to close our eyes and be knocked flat by these shots of compressed, refined language.