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The PALABRA Archive at the Library of Congress

This guide provides access to the PALABRA Archive, a collection of audio recordings of poets and writers from Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula, the Caribbean, and from other regions with Luso-Hispanic heritage reading from their works.

Introduction

Chilean Nobel Laureate Pablo Neruda recording for Library of Congress in its recording studio. 1966. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The PALABRA Archive is a collection of original audio recordings of 20th and 21st century Luso-Hispanic poets and writers reading from their works. With recorded authors from all over Latin America, the Iberian Peninsula, the Caribbean, and other regions with Hispanic and Portuguese heritage populations, this archive has to date close to 800 recordings, a portion of which are available for online streaming.

Historically known as the Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape (AHLOT), PALABRA has been curated by the Library of Congress Hispanic Division since 1943. It includes sessions with figures such as Nobel Laureates Gabriel García Márquez, Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Miguel Ángel AsturiasJuan Ramón Jiménez, and with other noteworthy figures like Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, and Julio Cortázar.

The majority of the recordings from this collection are in Spanish, English, and Portuguese, but the archive also includes sessions in Catalan, Basque, French, Dutch, Creole, and indigenous languages like Náhuatl, Zapotec, Quechua, and Aymara. The majority of the sessions have been recorded in the Library of Congress' Recording Laboratory, although a good portion have been captured abroad and in other venues around the U.S. and Washington, DC.

Today, curators in the Hispanic Reading Room continue to actively capture voices of contemporary literary figures for the collection.

This guide provides access to this archive as well as to related features such as our "Spotlight on U.S./Hispanic Writers," and the Library's Hispanic Division's podcast "La Biblioteca." The podcast's first season highlights literary experts discussing some of the authors in the PALABRA Archive.

Featured Recording

How to use this guide

This guide provides access to recordings from the PALABRA Archive that are available for online streaming and serves as a reference point for  materials from the collection which are only accessible onsite at the Library of Congress. Every year the Hispanic Division makes fifty new recordings from the archive available online. To learn about our yearly uploads and other news related to the PALABRA Archive, subscribe to our mailing list and to the Library of Congress 4 Corners of the World Blog.

There are two ways to access the materials from the PALABRA Archive presented in this guide:

  • Alphabetical List of "Recorded Authors"
    This section of the guide lists all of the poets and writers in the PALABRA Archive, organized alphabetically by the author's last name. The names of the writers whose recordings are available for online streaming are indicated with and asterisk ( * ) and they link directly to the streaming audio. The other authors link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog.
  • Region/Country List of Authors
    This section of the guide includes a list of recordings organized by the region and country of provenance of the poets and writers. Each country page includes a link to all the recordings from that particular country that available for online streaming and a list of the recordings that are only available onsite at the Library of Congress.