It’s sobering to think that some of the writers and artists who will define our age will be utterly unknown to us, if the past is anything to go by. Think of Emily Dickinson, Gerard Manley Hopkins, or Franz Kafka, for example, whose works were unknown or virtually unknown during their lifetimes.
By and large, our experience of poetry is an active affair. Reading a poem well generally demands diligence and attention, which partially explains poetry’s neglect when compared to other artforms that are often experienced somewhat passively – from film to the visual arts, to music, to audiobooks, and even the novel, which generally relies less on an actively constructed meaning.
Of course, recordings of poems abound, and a recording of a poem can be experienced just as passively as an audiobook or piece of music. But there’s something to be said for Philip Larkin’s argument that ‘[h]earing a poem, as opposed to reading it on the page, means you miss so much – the shape, the punctuation, the italics, even knowing how far you are from the end.’
As someone who prefers to experience poems from the page, it’s a delight to have access to Alice Allan’s regular Poetry Says podcasts, a series of lively and engaging conversations about poetry. The podcasts are perfect for those moments in which reading poems from a book is impractical.
Over 100 episodes of Poetry Says are available, including episodes on Gertrude Stein, Adrienne Rich, Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Jack Gilbert, Ted Berrigan, Judith Wright, Jorie Graham, and contemporary Australian poets, such as Michael Farrell and Jill Jones. The episode on Plath’s bee poems is highly recommended. Invariably, an episode sends me back to a poet and their work with fresh insight and new regard.
Poetry Says website : Poetry Says on Twitter : Poetry Says on Facebook
When Rilke penned the lines: ‘Music. The breathing of statues. Perhaps: / The quiet of images. You, language where / languages end’ (from ‘To Music’) he was certainly thinking more of Mozart or Monteverdi than of Mumford & Sons. Notwithstanding, this is my ‘mixtape’ for the first half of 2019 – things old, new, borrowed, etcetera – arranged roughly in the order in which I became enamoured or re-enamoured of them. Nothing too uppity or grandiose, except maybe the first one.
- Nils Frahm’s Toilet Brushes (live) (2013)
- Ben Howard’s Small Things (2014)
- Ben Howard’s End of the Affair (live) (2014)
- Big Red Machine’s Lyla (2018)
- Kaleo’s Save Yourself (2016)
- Chet Faker’s Talk is Cheap (2014)
- Gregory Alan Isakov’s San Luis (2018)
- Gregory Alan Isakov’s cover of Iron & Wine’s The Trapeze Swinger (2015)
- Thom Yorke’s Bloom (live) (2019)
- Thom Yorke’s Unmade (live) (2019)
- Boy & Bear’s cover of Empire of the Sun’s Walking on a Dream (live) (2011)
- The Reindeer Section’s Cartwheels (2002)
- Elbow’s Mirrorball (2008)
- WATT!’s Santa Monica (2018)
- WATT!’s Deutscher Herbst (2018)
- Tales’ So Blue (2018)
- Bon Iver’s Calgary (live) (2016)
- Mogli’s cover of Bon Iver’s Holocene (live) (2018)
- Radiohead’s The Numbers (live) (2016)
- The National’s Light Years (2019)
- Calexico and Iron & Wine’s Midnight Sun (2019)
- Lambchop’s Everything for You (2019)
- The Cinematic Orchestra’s Lessons (2019)
- Black English’s Leave the Door Wide Open (2014)
- Fontaines DC’s Hurricane Laughter (2019)