Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Musings (ngroooannn) to my Ears

Laid up with a feckin' annoying sinus infection (and my trusty laptop) I was struck by the vast amount of resources for poets and other writers out there in deepest cyberspace. The growth of personal blogging alone has opened possibilities for research, networking, debate and promotion that would have been unimaginable to previous generations. As you know, if you're kind enough to be reading this.

YouTube, and internet video in general is coming of age, of course. But there's a wonderful virtual library of audio out there too - much of which is writing-related. The fact that most radio shows are now archived online makes it possible to catch programmes that clash with other activities, but there's lots of other sources of online audio too. Listening at the computer is one option, but I find these podcasts ideal for downloading to listen to on commutes and other journeys. Here's a few of my own regular haunts.

I've previously mentioned the exceptional archive of interviews at Don Swaim's Wired for Books. Mostly dating from the 80s and 90s, you can listen to Ray Carver, Tobias Wolff, Atwood, Asimov - allsorts, in fact! Other recent additions include readings of Whitman's poems, Thomas Lynch, Macbeth and other Shakespeare plays and, topically, A Christmas Carol, as well as a growing section of children's writing.

The Guardian Book Club is another good source of interviews with writers - one highlight is an interview with Jeanette Winterson from 2007. You can subscribe to this series via iTunes.

Another treasure chest is the Lannan Foundation podcast series. You can subscribe to these via iTunes too, but there seems to be something astray in the cataloguing there - browse their homepage instead. A pretty strong Irish flavour in this series; John McGahern, Eavan Boland and Eamon Grennan all feature - the latter interviewed by Denis O'Driscoll, who also interviews Seamus Heaney. A tempting taster in advance of reading Stepping Stones, perhaps. Unfortunately, some of these files suffer from digital artefacting due to audio compression. But there's plenty of gems in there - well worth a rummage.

Poetry, the US magazine, has a whole range of podcast material, including a 'poem of the day' and an inside look at each issue of Poetry magazine, hosted by the editors. Good Stuff.

There's also the Association of Poetry Podcasting - a veritable jumble sale of links to a wide range of podcasts from many, many sources. You'll have to do your own rummaging here, as I've barely broken the surface.

Check out iTunes for many, many, many more, including RTE's own Sunday Miscellany, The Penguin Podcast, and The New York Times Book Review. Lots of miscellaneous quirky stuff there too!

So, plenty of food for.... eh, your ears, I guess. Enjoy.