Podcasts are a great way to keep up on what is happening in the world. My personal podcast playlist varies in content from news, to nature, to pop culture, and now podcasts on poetry and literature.
Below are two podcasts that I have recently listened to that I thought we worth sharing.
Poetry Unbound with Pádraig Ó Tuama
In the Poetry Unbound podcast, listeners joins Pádraig Ó Tuama in “an immersive reading of a single poem. Unhurried, contemplative and energizing.” Each episode starts with Ó Tuama reading a selected poem, then he dives into his interpretation of the poem, and ends with him re-reading the poem. I have noticed that when I hear this poem for a second time, it seems to have has new life and meaning for me.
Although I find all of the Poetry Unbound episodes educational and enlightening, the recent episode on Tishani Doshi’s poem “Species” was particularly intriguing.
Doshi’s poem tells of “a future where agriculture, forestry, and cultivation are things of the past, distant memories learned by humans existing on other planets. . . .This poem of dystopian magic-realism is more real than magic, offering advice on thriving, while noting the knife-edge of self-destruction so familiar to human behavior.”(1)
This poem begins, “When it is time, we will herd into the bunker of the earth/ to join the lost animals”. These lines set the stage for this science fiction adventure through a museum of human history.
The concluding lines of this poem are:
“We should have learned/ from the grass, humble in its abundance, offering food and shelter/ wherever it spread. Instead, we stamped our feet like gods,/ marveling at the life we made, imagining all of it to be ours.”
“Species” is such a uniquely written poem about the human impact on the natural world. If you are interested in environmental issues, science fiction, and poetry, this poem might be just what you are looking for.
Between the Covers with David Naimon
Between the Covers is another great podcast that is a must listen for readers, writers, and those interested in the minds behind some of today’s most interesting stories. This podcast is hosted by David Naimon and contains long-form interviews with notable authors and poets.
The episode I want to highlight is Naimon’s interview with Arthur Sze. Sze is the author of 11 books of poetry and winner of many awards including the PEN Southwest Book Award,and the National Book Award in Poetry. Sze is also a translator and has studied and translated the works of great Chinese poets from the Tang dynasty.
During this episode Naimon and Sze talk about the 50 years of poetry collected in Sze’s new book Glass Constellation. The conversation ranges from Sze’s role as an educator, his individual growth as a poet, the influence of Chinese poetry on his own work, and his interest in quantum physics and entanglement theory.
Sze reads several of his poems including “Mushroom Hunting in the Jemez Mountains” and “Salt Song”. In reflecting on the process of writing Salt Song Sze says,
“I wanted this very archetypal deep sense of journey that the salt was speaking out of this ancient voice, coming forward, and talking to a human being saying, ‘I’m just not the salt and the salt shaker that you serve, throw on ribeye steak or something. I want you to really see who I am, what I am, where I come from, and what is happening when you take salt into your body and we are joined.’ For me, there was an element of mythic power that was my primary focus. I wanted to exclude what I saw as more peripheral, tangential, or superficial ways of looking at salt.”
As you can see from this quote, Sze has a unique and comprehensive way of looking at the world and the human connection to it. If you have a couple of hours available, this would be a great podcast to listen to.
If you have a favorite poetry and nature podcast, feel free to share your recommendation below.
- Poetry Unbound is production of the OnBeing Project
- Tishani Doshi’s poem “Species” can be found in her book A God at the Door.
- Between the Covers is produced by Tin House and KBOO 90.7FM community radio in Portland, Oregon.
- Arthur Sze’s book The Glass Constellation is a collection of his poems from the past 50 years and 26 new poems.
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Mark, this is a bit of an eye-opener for me! I’ve heard of neither of these poets but find “Species” and also Arthur Sze to be sooo relevant to me! Many thanks for the links, Ashley
Hi Ashley, so glad you enjoyed the links. I am am really interested in Sze’s work and was excited to learn more about his history. Have a great day.
Thank you for putting Poetry Unbound back on my radar. My sister recommended it months ago and I’d written it on a sticky note which got lost along the way. I just listened to the episode on Species. Wow wow wow. That was tough but also thrilling. Colonization never a sound plan, whether here or elsewhere. *sigh* “We should have listened to the grass, …” Devastating.
Hi Tracy, I have to agree. Such an impactful poem! Funny to hear that your sister also recommended the podcast. I am a fan of the On Being project in general and listen to a lot of their work and Poetry Unbound is quickly becoming a favorite.
I’ve never been a big podcast person…hard to focus on that without trying to do something else. But when you brought it up, I took it as a sign. Glad I listened.
I also appreciate the fact that the poetry podcast is only about 10 minutes long. It’s perfect for those little break.
I like the idea of podcasts in theory, but I feel so overwhelmed with so many things I just haven’t taken the time to learn how to set myself up to listen to any. Since I don’t drive to work anymore, I miss regularly tuning into programs from NPR like “All Things Considered” and the “SoundLab.” I’m sure I would love the nature-related podcasts if I ever got around to sorting myself out. 🙂
Hi Melanie, All your favorite NPR shows are also in podcast format. I also listen to The Indicator and Project Money which are on NPR.
You would need to find a podcast player that you like. But once you find one, it is pretty simple to use. And I also totally understand that it is another thing to try and operate!