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Human Voices Wake Us

Human Voices Wake Us

By Human Voices Wake Us

The poem says, "Human voices wake us, and we drown." But I’ve made this podcast with the belief that human voices are what we need. And so, whether from a year or three thousand years ago, whether poetry or prose, whether fiction or diary or biography, here are the best things we have ever thought, written, or said.

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Currently playing episode

Anthology: Love Poems from the Last Four Centuries

Human Voices Wake Us

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Anthology: Poems on How to Live
Anthology: Poems on How to Live
Tonight I read a handful of poems on the theme of How to live, what to do? How to get by in the world as a devotee of culture, solitude, ritual, beauty, tradition and individuality? There is of course no one answer, and anyway, poetry should stay as far away from direct “advice,” or proscription of any kind. Still, when I sit back and think about the kind of poems that help me through the day – and the months, and the years – these are some of them. Let me know the poems you rely on in this way: send me a message at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. As I also mention, after this episode I’ll be taking a break from Human Voices Wake Us for at least a month. The best way to support the podcast is to preorder my book Notes from the Grid (coming out February 23), or check out any of my other books: To the House of the Sun, The Lonely Young & the Lonely Old, Bone Antler Stone The poems I read are: Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), How to Live What to Do Galway Kinnell (1927-2014), Tillamook Journal Edith Nesbit (1858-1924), Things That Matter Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), #2 from Lightenings Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962), Joy Louise Glück (1943-), Summer Night W. B. Yeats (1865-1939), A Prayer on Going into My House Emily Brontë (1818-1848), “Often rebuked, yet always back returning” Henry Vaughan (1621-1695), Man Don’t forget to join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. 
59:51
January 26, 2023
Anthology: Love Poems from the Last Four Centuries
Anthology: Love Poems from the Last Four Centuries
Tonight I ask the question: what is love, and what is love poetry? Are poems about family and friendship love poems, just as much as those about romantic feeling, and longing, and heartbreak? And even more: what is romantic love? What, for instance, did T. S. Eliot mean when he said, “Love is most nearly itself/When here and now cease to matter,” or when Emily Dickinson wrote of “Wild nights”? The poems I read are: Ted Hughes (1930-1998), Bride and Groom Lie Hidden for Three Days Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), Bouquet of Belle Scavoir Katherine, Lady Dyer (c.1585-1654), Epitaph on Sir William Dyer Elizabeth Barret Browning (1806-1861), #43& #44in Sonnets from the Portuguese Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), #7from In Memoriam Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), Dover Beach Ruth Pitter (1897-1992), But for Lust Elizabeth Jennings (1926-2001), One Flesh Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), #3 in Clearances Louise Glück (1943-), Brown Circle Eavan Boland (1944-2020), The Necessity for Irony Walt Whitman (1819-1892), To a Stranger Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), Wild Nights Don’t forget to join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com.
59:35
January 18, 2023
Advice from Charles Dickens & Alice Munro
Advice from Charles Dickens & Alice Munro
Tonight we hear from two great writers of fiction, Charles Dickens and Alice Munro. Through a handful of readings from Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens: A Life, we see how Dickens (1812-1870) was able to juggle, for almost a year, the writing of two novels simultaneously, both for serial publication. Thanks to a letter written by Fyodor Dostoevsky, who visited Dickens in London in 1862, we also hear Dickens speaking privately in a way that he rarely did publicly, admitting that his villains were better reflections of himself than his more lovable and generous characters. We also answer the question: what do David Copperfield and Jane Eyre have in common? From the introduction to her Selected Stories, Alice Munro (born in 1931, and winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize) describes how, as a homemaker, she came to writing short stories very nearly by necessity. She also discusses how she set her first attempts at fiction in faraway, historical, or Brontë-inspired surroundings, and only later came to see the artistic potential of her own backyard, in the Lake Huron region of Canada. Don’t forget to join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com.
45:05
January 10, 2023
First Person: Voices from 1900-1914
First Person: Voices from 1900-1914
For this first episode of 2023, I read a handful of voices from those living in Europe and the United States between 1900 and 1914. Rephrased only slightly, nearly all of their concerns feel like they could appear in the news or on the street today: There’s worry over the spread of new technology and how it perhaps cheapens everyday life There’s deep paranoia over changes in previously stable gender roles There’s a desperate need to find a grand solution to all of our problems—in this case, in the embrace of eugenics And there is, on the one hand, an immense faith that “progress” of all kinds will wipe away things like poverty, war, or religion; while, on the other hand, there is such an overriding feeling of powerlessness in the face of science, culture, and rapid change, that many feared the collapse of civilization altogether I read these voices here to suggest that the feelings of emergency, then and now, are perhaps misplaced. What is actually going on, alongside all the dread? What can we learn from these voices that sound so much like our own, and what will people look back on 2023 learn for themselves? Each of these quotations can be found in Philipp Blom’s wonderful book, The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
57:48
January 02, 2023
The Great Myths #22: The Story of Ragnarok in the Norse Eddas
The Great Myths #22: The Story of Ragnarok in the Norse Eddas
How did the Viking Norse tell a story as important as Ragnarok (the end of the world) in poetry, and then in prose? What does prose require that poetry does not, and vice-versa, and especially when the accounts we have are separated by centuries of historical change, and religious conversion?  In this third episode on Norse Mythology, I read the story of Ragnarok from the Prose Edda (dating to c. 1220), and then its corresponding section in the poem Voluspa (c. 1000) in the Poetic Edda. Each section is preceded by the story of the death of Odin's son, Balder, which in many ways precipitated Ragnarok. I also read from a later poem, Balder's Dreams (c. 1300). The translation of the Poetic Edda (and Balder's Dreams) that I read from is by Andy Orchard, and the Prose Edda by Anthony Faulkes. The commentary I read from throughout the episode comes from the translation and commentary by Ursula Dronke. The essential reference books on Norse myth that I will be using for this series are John Lindow’s Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals & Beliefs, Rudolf Simek’s Dictionary of Northern Mythology, and Andy Orchard’s Cassell Dictionary of Norse Myth & Legend. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:26:27
December 23, 2022
William Carlos Williams: 11 Essential Poems
William Carlos Williams: 11 Essential Poems
Tonight, I read eleven essential poems from the American poet William Carlos Williams (1883-1963). His poems can be found in The Collected Poems Volume I: 1909-1939, The Collected Poems Volume II: 1939-1962, and Paterson.  The biographies I read from are Paul Mariani’s William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked, and the essay on Williams’ life at The Poetry Foundation. The poems I read are: Pastoral (1917) Danse Russe (1917) Waiting (1921) The Great Figure (1921) The Red Wheelbarrow (1923) Flowers by the Sea (first version) (1931) War, the Destroyer! (1942) Approach to a City (1946) To a Dog Injured in the Street (1954) Deep Religious Faith (1954) from Asphodel, That Greeny Flower (1955) You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter, by clicking here. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:03:14
December 15, 2022
Van Gogh's Early Years
Van Gogh's Early Years
Tonight, we enter into the early years of Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), from his birth in the village of Zundert in the Netherlands, to his time in the Borinage mining region of Belgium. It was there, at the age of twenty-seven—and after years of personal and professional failures—that he hit bottom … and suddenly realized he was an artist. In the first half of the episode, I read from Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s biography, Van Gogh: The Life. The second half is devoted to a handful of letters Van Gogh wrote to his brother in 1879 and 1880, where he admits the humiliation of his failures, and then revels in his newfound passion for drawing and painting. The letters can be found online here. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter, by clicking here. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
53:29
December 07, 2022
Give Me Another Tarantula
Give Me Another Tarantula
What happens when two comedians lose all their confidence when they meet in an elevator? What is the happiest story you can think of (hint: it almost always comes from childhood)? What are the unfinished or untouched obsessions you’ve collected material for, but never gotten around to? How lucky was Shakespeare to have been born just at the time when the translation of Latin literature became all the rage in England? What do Shakespeare’s Macbeth and the French photographer Eugene Atget have in common… and are you, dear listener out there, an autodidact? How does it feel to be able to find a book, any book at all, much more easily than Richard Wagner could dream? And are you someone like William H. Macy in the movie Magnolia, who has “a lot of love to give?” And are you like Van Gogh, who knows he has a purpose, but can’t find it yet? In other words, tonight is another edition of Give Me a Tarantula, a catch-all for every small idea that can’t fill an episode on their own. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter, by clicking here. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
51:22
November 29, 2022
Robert Lowell: 10 Essential Poems
Robert Lowell: 10 Essential Poems
Tonight I read ten essential poems from the American poet, Robert Lowell (1917-1977). They can all be found in his Collected Poems. His letters are collected in The Letters of Robert Lowell, Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop & Robert Lowell, and The Dolphin Letters, 1970-1979: Elizabeth Hardwick, Robert Lowell, and Their Circle. It’s been a while, but I remember enjoying Paul Mariani’s Lost Puritan: A Life of Robert Lowell. · Memories of West Street & Lepke (from Life Studies, 1959) · The Public Garden (from For the Union Dead, 1964) · For the Union Dead (from For the Union Dead, 1964) · History (from History, 1973) · Bobby Delano (from History, 1973) · Anne Dick I. 1936 (from History, 1973) · For Robert Kennedy 1925-68 (from History, 1973) · Marriage? (Hospital II., part 4) (from The Dolphin, 1973) · Dolphin (from The Dolphin, 1973) · Epilogue (from Day by Day, 1977) You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter, by clicking here. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
53:54
November 14, 2022
What Do Writers & Actors Have in Common?
What Do Writers & Actors Have in Common?
Tonight I talking about creativity and wonder what actors and writers have in common. The springboard for much of what I say is Simon Callow’s article in the New York Review of Books, which itself is a review of Isaac Butler’s “history” of Method acting, The Method: How the Twentieth Century Learned to Act. Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. You can also support this podcast by going to wordandsilence.com and checking out any of my books. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
49:06
November 04, 2022
True Horror
True Horror
Tonight I talk about the nature of horror/true crime books and movies to ask: what makes a story truly frightening, instead of just entertaining? What kinds of movies or books, or ways of storytelling, take us beyond entertainment to true horror, to actual fear? How does the disturbing story of Ed Gein end up, filtered through convention and expectation, as “standard” (even if classic) movies like Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Silence of the Lambs? Discussed along the way: Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now, the new Netflix series on Jeffrey Dahmer, the movie The Exorcist, Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, the use of crime scene photos for advertising TV shows, and the unavoidable re-traumatization of victims and their families with each new show, book, movie (or, indeed, podcast). Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. You can also support this podcast by going to wordandsilence.com and checking out any of my books. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
57:43
October 27, 2022
The Great Myths #21: The Story of Creation in the Norse Eddas
The Great Myths #21: The Story of Creation in the Norse Eddas
In this second episode on Norse Mythology, I read from the creation myths found in the poem, “Voluspa,” found in the Poetic Edda, and from its corresponding sections in the Prose Edda. I also read from commentaries on these sections. The translation of the Poetic Edda that I read from is by Andy Orchard, and the Prose Edda by Anthony Faulkes. The commentary I read from on the Poetic Edda, for the last half hour of the episode, comes from the translation and commentary by Ursula Dronke. The essential reference books on Norse myth that I will be using for this series are John Lindow’s Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals & Beliefs, Rudolf Simek’s Dictionary of Northern Mythology, and Andy Orchard’s Cassell Dictionary of Norse Myth & Legend. Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. You can also support this podcast by going to wordandsilence.com and checking out any of my books. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:22:29
October 19, 2022
Old Friends
Old Friends
An episode from 10/11/22:  Tonight I talk about a dear friend from my youth, who made a great impact on me from my late teens and into my early twenties. I met him when he was probably in his early fifties, although he looked much, much older. By that time he had already lived quite a life. He was one of the first people I knew to unabashedly tout the transformative power of both literature and religion: always with a New York Times under his arm, he introduced me to Seamus Heaney's poetry as well as Huston Smith's World Religions, and he was equally at home quoting a Hindu text, as he was rattling off some Robert Frost. My friend (who I don't name in this episode) was also the first openly gay person I ever knew, and I will never forget how nervous and prepared for rejection that he was (this being late 1996), when he came out to me. We ended up becoming very close, each trading stories on our various relationship woes, and in time I would drive him to see his mother at a retirement home, up until the day that she died. As I say in the episode, a good way to describe my friend can be seen in his relationship to two novels by Hermann Hesse. Probably during our first conversation, he showed me a notebook where he had copied out a long passage from the end of Hesse's Demian, which is largely the story of youthful illumination. The other writers that I knew, however, were much more interested in Hesse's novel of middle-aged rejuvenation, Steppenwolf; my friend, however, simply said that he didn't need to read Steppenwolf, since he had already lived it. The music that begins the episode is Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bookends Theme.” You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:07:43
October 11, 2022
Ted Hughes: 12 Essential Poems
Ted Hughes: 12 Essential Poems
Tonight I read twelve essential poems from the British poet Ted Hughes (1930-1998). They can all be found in his Collected Poems (smaller selections of his poetry include Selected Poems 1957-1994 and A Ted Hughes Bestiary). In this episode I also read from The Letters of Ted Hughes. The poems are: Wind (from the Hawk in the Rain, 1957) Six Young Men (from the Hawk in the Rain, 1957) Crow's Song About God (from Crow, 1970-71) “I skin the skin” (from Gaudete, 1977) A Green Mother (from Cave Birds, 1978) Bride and Groom Lie Hidden for Three Days (from Cave Birds, 1978) Cock-Crows (from Remains of Elmet, 1979) Rain (from Moortown Diary, 1979) February 17th (from Moortown Diary, 1979) Four March Watercolours (from River, 1983) October Salmon (from River, 1983) Life After Death (from Birthday Letters, 1998) This is followed by a reading Hughes gave of his poem, “October Salmon.” Other episodes on Hughes include one where he discusses privacy for his family in the wake of Sylvia Plath’s posthumous fame; another where he discusses how he discovered poetry; and another, much longer episode of readings (4.5 hours) from Hughes’s poetry. Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. You can also support this podcast by going to wordandsilence.com and checking out any of my books. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:23:47
October 03, 2022
Robinson Jeffers: 10 Essential Poems
Robinson Jeffers: 10 Essential Poems
Tonight I read ten essential poems from the American poet Robinson Jeffers (1187-1962). Selections of Jeffers’s poetry are legion: many of them can be found here. The five-volume Collected Poems of Robinson Jeffers, edited by Tim Hunt and published by Stanford University Press, can be found here. You can read more about his life at the Poetry Foundation and Wikipedia. A larger selection of his poetry, which I recorded in 2020-2021, can be found here. The poems I read are: The Excesses of God Point Joe Hooded Night New Mexican Mountain Nova from Hungerfield De Rerum Virtute Vulture “I am seventy-four years old and suddenly all my strength” Inscription for a Gravestone The episode ends with a 1941 Library of Congress recording of Jeffers reading his poem, “Natural Music.” Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. You can also support this podcast by going to wordandsilence.com and checking out any of my books. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
53:12
September 23, 2022
The Great Myths #20: Introducing Norse Myth & Reading the Voluspa
The Great Myths #20: Introducing Norse Myth & Reading the Voluspa
For the next year or more, my series on The Great Myths will focus on Norse mythology. Tonight I introduce the subject and read one of its foundational texts, the poem that starts the Poetic Edda, “Voluspa,” as translated by Andy Orchard. The two translations of the Poetic Edda that I mention are those by Andy Orchard and Carolyn Larrington. The two translations of the Prose Edda that I mention are those by Anthony Faulkes and Jesse Byock. The essential reference books on Norse myth that I will be using for this series are John Lindow’s Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals & Beliefs, Rudolf Simek’s Dictionary of Northern Mythology, and Andy Orchard’s Cassell Dictionary of Norse Myth & Legend. Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. You can also support this podcast by going to wordandsilence.com and checking out any of my books. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:21:14
September 15, 2022
Stephen King's Great Novel of Parenthood & Grief
Stephen King's Great Novel of Parenthood & Grief
Tonight I spent an hour talking about Stephen King’s 1983 novel, Pet Sematary, which seems to me one of the great expressions of the anxieties of being a parent. Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. You can also support this podcast by going to wordandsilence.com and checking out any of my books. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:18:39
September 07, 2022
Give Me a Tarantula
Give Me a Tarantula
Give Me a Tarantula is a scattering of thoughts on: Old Norse & Old English Edward Hopper Five Going on Six Droning Sound Driving in Ohio Vermeer & Personal Nostalgia Dead Can Dance Primo Levi Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:00:19
August 30, 2022
The Great Myths #19: Farewell to the Celtic Myths, & One Last Story
The Great Myths #19: Farewell to the Celtic Myths, & One Last Story
Tonight we leave the Celtic myths with an overview of The Great Myths #8-18 (which can be listened to here), and then read one final story, of Cuchulainn’s fight with Ferdiad, from Thomas Kinsella’s translation of the Táin bo Cúailnge.  The translations I have read from or referenced in these episodes include: Jeffrey Gantz, Early Irish Myths & Sagasand The Mabinogion; Thomas Kinsella, The Táin; Patrick Ford, The Mabinogi and Other Medieval Welsh Tales; Ann Dooley & Harry Roe, Tales of the Elders of Ireland; Nessa Ní Shéaghdha, The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne; Kenneth Jackson, A Celtic Miscellany. The nonfiction books I’ve relied on include: James MacKillop, Oxford Dictionary of Celtic Mythology; Mark Williams, Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth; and the book/documentary series that got me started on it way back when: Carmel McCaffrey and Leo Eaton’s In Search of Ancient Ireland. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support I assume that the small amount of work  presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work  presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I  will remove the episode immediately.
54:48
August 22, 2022
Great Poems: Shakespeare's "To Be or Not to Be"
Great Poems: Shakespeare's "To Be or Not to Be"
Tonight I go over Shakespeare’s “To be or not to be” soliloquy from Act 3 scene 1 of Hamlet. Throughout the episode I include the performance of this speech from modern actors: the first is by Paapa Essiedu, and the second by Andrew Scott. The very last, to give a sense of what the original pronunciation of the speech would have sounded like, is performed by Ben Crystal. A larger compilation of nine different versions can be found here, and a YouTube search provides even more. The books read from in this episode are Ben and David Crystal’s Shakespeare’s Words: A Glossary and Language Companion, Marjorie Garber’s Shakespeare After All, and Peter Ackroyd’s Shakespeare: The Biography. Please consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:07:12
August 12, 2022
First Person: The Atomic Bomb
First Person: The Atomic Bomb
A four-part episode on the atomic bomb, from its development to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and after, drawn from the words of those who were there. The full text of the quotations used here can be found in the blog versions of these podcasts. The books used to make these episodes are: The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, by Richard Rhodes American Prometheus: The Triumph & Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin J. Robert Oppenheimer: Shatterer of Worlds, by Peter Goodchild. John Else's documentary, The Day After Trinity, can be watched here. John Bradley's anthology of poets writing about the bomb is Atomic Ghosts: Poets Respond to the Atomic Age. My poem about Robert Oppenheimer can be read here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
02:43:56
August 04, 2022
Van Gogh: Starry Nights & Sunflowers
Van Gogh: Starry Nights & Sunflowers
An episode from 7/27/22: Tonight, I read from Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s Van Gogh: The Life, sharing the sections covering Van Gogh’s two Starry Night paintings, and his many paintings of sunflowers. Before these images became as ubiquitous as Michelangelo's David, they were the product of a largely unknown artist who was working in the south of France in the late 1880s. Unable to support himself in any conventional way, unable to make or keep friends, and unable--it seems--to do much else than paint and paint, these pictures are only a few of his expressions of love for the world, and how he saw it. It is significant, too, that his Starry Night Over the Rhone includes the two stock-figures that appear over and over again in his work: a couple, walking together; that his other Starry Night depicts a village beneath its swirl of stars. And his many sunflowers were, of course, painted ahead of Paul Gauguin's arrival at Vincent's Yellow House in Arles, and were spread around as a kind of welcoming gift. All of these works point to van Gogh's fantasies of romantic companionship, sympathetic friendship among fellow artists, and his simple--and sometimes sentimental--desire to simply belong, all of which were doomed. Where van Gogh failed in human company, he succeeded, at great cost to himself, with his art. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:03:48
July 27, 2022
Witches in America, Napoleon in Egypt, & the Invention of the Printed Book
Witches in America, Napoleon in Egypt, & the Invention of the Printed Book
Tonight I read three sections from Jacques Barzun’s book From Dawn to Decadence: 1500 to the Present: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life: The expedition of French scholars that followed Napoleon into Egypt (24: 18) The invention of the printed book, and what it meant to education and literacy (44:00) On the Salem Witch trials of 1692, and how closely science at the time was allied with superstition You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter, by clicking here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
53:49
July 19, 2022
Emily Dickinson
Emily Dickinson
Tonight I read from Brenda Wineapple’s wonderful book, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson. If any listeners can recommend other books about Dickinson they have enjoyed, email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. Consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:15:35
July 11, 2022
The Voice of Toni Morrison
The Voice of Toni Morrison
An episode from 6/26/22: We are incredibly lucky that, in the novelist Toni Morrison (1931-2019), we had that rare thing: a great writer who also achieved great popularity with the general public. This meant that she was interviewed about her life, her books, and about creativity and the news of the day, hundreds of times. In this episode, I’ve gone through my favorite interviews with her and gathered the best parts into these segments: (:35) On love (parental, romantic, religious) (8:25) On childhood, family history, and being a parent and a writer (43:32) On race, writing in difficult political and social moments, and being more interested in good than evil (1:11:48) On writing in general, and specifically the writing of Beloved The interviews I’ve drawn from are these: Toni Morrison In Depth, on C-SPAN Toni Morrison on Charlie Rose in 1993, 1998, and 2015 Toni Morrison, interviewed by Junot Diaz Toni Morrison interview by Farah Jasmine Griffin at the 92nd Street Y Toni Morrison on NPR’s Fresh Air: in 2015, and a Retrospective Toni Morrison on BBC’s World Book Club You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com.
01:45:14
June 26, 2022
The Great Myths #18: Celtic Myth and Scholarship
The Great Myths #18: Celtic Myth and Scholarship
Tonight we get back to the Celtic myths, and take a detour from the stories themselves and into what the most recent scholarship has to say about them. The book I read from is Mark Williams’s Ireland’s Immortals: A History of the Gods of Irish Myth. Previous episodes on Celtic Myth can be found here: https://wordandsilence.com/2022/03/23/the-great-myths-17-tales-of-the-elders-of-ireland-podcast/ Consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:05:11
June 19, 2022
Advice from Seamus Heaney // James Joyce's "Araby"
Advice from Seamus Heaney // James Joyce's "Araby"
In tonight's episode, we hear from Seamus Heaney and James Joyce. In the first part, I read Heaney’s responses to general questions about writing poetry: his methods, his inspiration, his favorite time of day to write. These come from Dennis O’Driscoll’s Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney. In the second part (beginning at 35:15) I read James Joyce’s short story, “Araby.” The reading is prefaced by a few personal thoughts on Joyce, and includes an excerpt from Gabriel’s Yared’s score for the film The English Patient. I previously discussed Michael Ondaatje’s novel, Anthony Minghella’s movie, and Yared’s music for the film, in an early episode, Rereading the English Patient. Consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com.
01:03:43
June 08, 2022
Loneliness // Advice from Beethoven, Joseph Campbell, W. S. Merwin
Loneliness // Advice from Beethoven, Joseph Campbell, W. S. Merwin
Tonight, I replay two of my favorite episodes from Human Voices Wake Us: from September of 2021, I talk for a moment about loneliness and creativity. The next segment (beginning at 36:00) is from July of 2021, where we hear more about creativity and living in the world, this time from Beethoven, Joseph Campbell, W. S. Merwin, and W. D. Snodgrass. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. Consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:06:25
June 01, 2022
Notes from the Grid: Simple Awareness
Notes from the Grid: Simple Awareness
An episode from 5/25/22: Tonight, I conclude with the last in a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. The first essay, "Simple Awareness," is followed by "The Uncomfortable, Unsolvable Middle" (begins at 20:30).The series concludes with "All Its Ways" (starts at 48:40) Taken together, these last three sections ask why it is, in the world that we've made, it is always easier to be selfish rather than selfless, and what can we do about it? Rather than putting forth some kind of program of political or social reform, I return to the transformative importance of those hidden moments in our private lives. As one UAW worker put it, “Every time I see an automobile going down the street, I wonder whether the person driving it realizes the kind of human sacrifice that has to go into the building of that car.” For those of us who don't want to leave the world altogether, this kind of simple awareness is enough, and alongside it the realization that there must be moments where we can understand that we are not deficient, and do not need what is being sold to us every hour of the day. This also brings to mind all of the unfairness and injustice (and the sense of powerlessness that many of us feel) that our everyday lives are saturated in. In light of how difficult our work and family lives can be, and in light of how much is outside of our own control, almost the best thing we can do make ourselves open to those chance encounters where we are able to help and encourage others (or where they might be able to help us). The large social or political gestures that we are all drawn to are, in the end, probably less transformative than the quiet, nearly anonymous moments, that help us day-to-day--such as the encouragement of a teacher or friend. Finally, I conclude that our political, religious, and cultural preferences--these ways of life that we value so much, including hallowed family traditions--are a play and a game, even as they are also our lifeblood. They are both: a game, and our lifeblood. These are the moments we live for, and they are rare; the rest is a game, but we have to play it. There does not seem to be a way out of this knot, the knot in which all of these things are bound together and dependent upon one another. If we are willing to live in the world and not dismiss it with cynicism, or literally go off the grid, the key to our own fulfillment seems to be in seeing the eternal and the everyday as inextricably intertwined. No specific cultural or religious pose is required, except the pursuit and search and finding of meaning, the joy, the bittersweetness, the perpetual learning. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:10:54
May 25, 2022
Notes from the Grid: The Perpetual Adolescent
Notes from the Grid: The Perpetual Adolescent
An episode from 5/16/22: Tonight, I continue with the fourth episode in a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. The first section is called "Civilization Does Not Civilize," and it hinges on a remark by the critic George Steiner. While many of us believe that an interest in art and culture can be some kind of barrier against inhumanity, Steiner says that "it’s all over our world: inhumanity can be combined with high aesthetic experience." Because of the way we talk and think about knowledge, this link with inhumanity seems to occur when culture ceases to be about the experience of literature or music or art, and instead becomes a matter of criticism, classification, and comparison. While fine on their own, when these things also become mixed up with notions of superiority, the hatred of rival ideas can very quickly turn into the hatred of people. The second section (begins at 20:30), "The Perpetual Adolescent," looks even more closely at knowledge, and education. When the psychologist Mary Pipher says about adolescents that "with amazing acuity, they sense nuances, doubt, shades of ambiguity, discrepancy and hypocrisy,” I realize what's missing: that adolescents aren’t given any constructive way to deal with ambiguity or hypocrisy. They aren’t told how to live in a difficult world, and so they only end up criticizing it. Using my own development as an example, I say that Pipher's remark about teenagers is actually a spot-on description of many people today, and our principal malaise is in being unable to deal with ambiguity of any kind. When we retreat behind the supposed certainties of our chosen social or religious or political identities, we inevitably find those lacking, too. I quote a character in one of Nietzsche's books, who says, "Man is for me too imperfect a thing. Love of man would kill me.” My conclusion, though, is that not being able to love each other, despite our imperfections, is what actually kills us. Spirit Murmur, the album of string quartet music I mention in the episode, composed by Alan Hovhaness and performed by the Shanghai Quartet, can be purchased here. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. As always, send any comments to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com.
50:35
May 16, 2022
Notes from the Grid: All Things Can Console
Notes from the Grid: All Things Can Console
An episode from 5/9/22: Tonight, I continue with the third episode in a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. The first section is called "All Things Can Console," and again I use our experience of criticism (in art or culture) to simply say that we need not take it so seriously. When the writer Teju Cole was asked what books he was "embarrassed" not to have read yet, his reply is a huge spotlight: "... my grandmother is illiterate, and she’s one of the best people I know. Reading is a deep personal consolation for me, but other things console, too." I ask what it would take, for each of us, to hold strongly to our passions and interests, with the full knowledge that "other things console, too." We need not make converts of anyone, or convince anyone, to enjoy what we enjoy; all we really need to cultivate is the enthusiasm of experience. The second section (begins at 22:30), "The Virtue of Uncertainty," looks at the difficulties of living with ambiguity of all kinds. Especially since so much of our lives actually can be known with near certainty—the ups and downs of the weather, the performance of our retirement plans and credit scores, how many miles before we run out of gas, etc.—it’s hard to believe that the rest of our lives can’t be understood in the same way. But they really can't. I expand on this idea by noticing how works of literature are, more often than not, experienced through anecdotes, translation, or in bits and pieces; and how, until photography and color reproduction came along, many lovers of the visual arts fell in love with painters and architects through illustrations or someone else's copies, and hardly ever saw a Michelangelo or a Rembrandt in person. I suggest that while this process is wildly uncertain and unpredictable, it is actually how great works of art survive, and that the example of how these things are studied in universities is actually the exception. The chance encounter with Vermeer in a friend's coffee table book, or my own introduction to Dante via David Fincher's movie Seven, is much closer to how works of art last, and live. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. As always, send any comments to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com.
41:36
May 09, 2022
Notes from the Grid: To Criticize the Critic
Notes from the Grid: To Criticize the Critic
An episode from 5/2/22: Tonight, I continue with the second in a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. It might as well be subtitled: How We Live Now, and along the way I take up things like technology, education, privacy, creativity, what it means to be an adolescent and what it means to be middle-aged, and so much else. The first part is called "To Criticize the Critic," and it wonders what the use of criticizing, explaining, or pretending we can objectively judge art, really is. I come to the conclusion that, so long as we don't think that criticism--whether in the snobbiest journals or just as the water cooler on Monday morning--can ever be objective, talking about the reasons why we like or dislike something can be a wonderful and essential way to pass the time. It is only when we pretend that critics are doing anything like what the artists themselves are doing, or when we take their claims of authority seriously, that we open the door to so much unnecessary suffering.  A remark from Picasso sums it up best: “Mathematics, trigonometry, chemistry, psychoanalysis, music and whatnot, have been related to cubism to give it an easier interpretation. All this has been pure literature, not to say nonsense, which has only succeeded in blinding people with theories.” The excerpt I play from an interview with George Steiner comes from a 1996 episode of Desert Island Discs. The second part (begins at 27:02), "What We’re Doing When We Think We’re Doing Nothing," takes as its jumping-off point a quote the actor Richard Burton: "I am fascinated by the idea of something but its execution bores me." From here I wonder about all the pressures creative people put on being successful, prolific, or in just finishing anything at all. I suggest that authors and artists should place as few expectations on themselves as possible, and that we even shouldn't be expected to be able to talk about what we've done, after it's finished. Finally, in wondering what this might mean in my own life, I realize that even if I leave a handful of decent poems or essays in my wake, my notebooks and diaries (and now a podcast) might actually be the best of me, those words that I dash off quickly before going on to “what I’m really trying to do. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. As always, send any comments to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com.
36:31
May 02, 2022
Notes from the Grid: Rediscovering the Hidden Life
Notes from the Grid: Rediscovering the Hidden Life
An episode from 4/26/22: Tonight, I begin a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. It might as well be subtitled: How We Live Now, and along the way I take up things like technology, education, privacy, creativity, what it means to be an adolescent and what it means to be middle-aged, and so much else.  These ideas have no doubt been wrung dry in many corners, I hope that my perspective makes them live again: that is, I write as someone who is not an influencer and is not famous, and I write for those who are just as hidden, anonymous, and perhaps forgotten, amid the perpetual attention-seeking (or just profit-making) nature of modern life. The first essay is called (begins at 5:05) "Rediscovering the Hidden Life," and it simply wonders why it is that we have been told (and why so many of us go along with the assumption) that meaning can only come from our participation in outward, public, or historical events. It is an unapologetic call to reclaim our own privacy and hidden life, our own grouchiness and weirdness, and it takes its cue from a quotation of George Eliot's: "For the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs." The second essay (begins at 29:08) "Fame is a Vampire," notices first how our culture and our own voracious enthusiasms are able make cliches out of things like Einstein's hair, or Michelangelo's David, or just the grunge rock I grew up with. But then, there is the realization that anything which we find truly meaningful (whether Renaissance art or rock 'n roll) can never really be exhausted and ruined. Anything that is truly worth our time can be reinvigorated and reinvented. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. After a short introduction, the first essay begins at 6:20, and the second begins at 30:22.  Preorder print copies of Notes from the Grid here: https://wordandsilence.com/human-voices-wake-us/ As always, send any comments to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com.
37:07
April 26, 2022
Walt Whitman's Mystical Poetry
Walt Whitman's Mystical Poetry
A reading of my favorite of Walt Whitman’s "mystical" poems--that is, those poems where he found identification in every and every thing, and saw that as a kind of salvation for us all. All of the poems can be found in the two recent books I edited, The Selected Short Poems of Walt Whitman, and The Selected Long Poems of Walt Whitman. Please consider getting a copy of these books (they are only $3.99), if you enjoy what you hear in this episode. Also included in this episode is (purportedly) the only known recording of Whitman, reading four lines from his poem “America” (at 54:39). For those who want to read an article about this recording, it can be downloaded here. For those who would like to skip to his longer poems, see the list below and the timestamp for where to find them. The poems I read are: Short Poems: Selections from “Song of Myself” Assurances Earth, My Likeness Full of Life Now To a Common Prostitute Mother and Babe O Me! O Life! Sparkles from the Wheel To Thee Old Cause! A Clear Midnight From Montauk Point America L. of G.’s Purport Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun Long Poems: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry (1:08:00) Song of the Open Road (1:26:00) A Song of the Rolling Earth (1:48:53) Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. Consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
02:02:26
April 19, 2022
Walt Whitman's Death Poetry
Walt Whitman's Death Poetry
A reading of my favorite of Walt Whitman’s poems about death. All of them can be found in the two recent books I edited, The Selected Short Poems of Walt Whitman, and The Selected Long Poems of Walt Whitman. Please consider getting a copy of these books (they are only $3.99), if you enjoy what you hear in this episode. For those who want to skip ahead to the section longer poems, which are some of Whitman’s greatest, it begins at 39:00. The poems I read are: Short Poems: Selections from “Song of Myself” The Compost I Sit and Look Out Scented Herbage of My Breast Of Him I Love Day and Night As the Time Draws Nigh So Long! Not Youth Pertains to Me Old War-Dreams As at Thy Portals Also Death A Carol Closing Sixty-Nine As I Sit Writing Here Supplement Hours Long Poems: The Sleepers As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. Consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:56:16
April 14, 2022
Walt Whitman's Love Poetry // Whitman & Sex
Walt Whitman's Love Poetry // Whitman & Sex
A reading of my favorite of Walt Whitman’s love poems. All of them can be found in the two recent books I edited, The Selected Short Poems of Walt Whitman, and The Selected Long Poems of Walt Whitman. Please consider buying these books (they are only $3.99), if you enjoy what you hear in this episode. Following these poems (at 1:06:57), I have inserted a reading from a previous episode on Whitman’s love and sex life, from Paul Zweig’s book, Walt Whitman: The Making of the Poet. The poems I read are: Selections from “Song of Myself” To You Once I Pass’d through a Populous City Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand Of the Terrible Doubt of Appearances Calamus #8 Calamus #9 When I Heard at the Close of the Day To a Stranger When I Peruse the Conquer’d Fame Thou Reader I Sing the Body Electric Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. Consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:52:34
April 10, 2022
Advice from Toni Morrison, Richard Wilbur, John Berryman, T. S. Eliot // Whitman's Earliest Critics
Advice from Toni Morrison, Richard Wilbur, John Berryman, T. S. Eliot // Whitman's Earliest Critics
Another two part episode: In the first part, quotations on creativity come from Toni Morrison, Richard Wilbur, John Berryman, and T. S. Eliot. In the second part (starting at 24:17), I read selections from Walt Whitman’s earliest reviewers. The full text of these reviews can be found in Gary Schmidgall’s Selected Poems of Walt Whitman. The two pocket books of Whitman's poetry that I mention at the end are The Selected Long Poems and The Selected Short Poems. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. Consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
57:30
April 06, 2022
Anthology: Poems by Lowell, Clare, Barbauld, Finch, Spenser // First Person: Eudora Welty & Helen Keller
Anthology: Poems by Lowell, Clare, Barbauld, Finch, Spenser // First Person: Eudora Welty & Helen Keller
Another two part episode: in the first, I read five poems: Robert Lowell (1917-1977), “Bobby Delano” John Clare (1793-1864), “An Invite to Eternity” Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825), “A Summer Evening’s Meditation” Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661-1720), “A Nocturnal Reverie” Edmund Spenser (1552?-1599), from The Faerie Queen, Book 3, Canto 6 In the second (starting at 42:00), I read from Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings, and Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life. Both, in their own way, are about each writer’s earliest discovery of words. As with many First Person segments, come from the pages of Lapham’s Quarterly, one of the best collections of voices from history that I know. Consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
59:53
March 29, 2022
Loneliness, pt2 // Shakespeare, Sex & Sonnets
Loneliness, pt2 // Shakespeare, Sex & Sonnets
Another two part episode: The first is a brief sequel to an episode from last September, called Loneliness. (You can listen to that episode here) The second part (beginning at 19:19) is a reading from Peter Ackroyd’s biography of William Shakespeare—buy the book here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
48:00
March 25, 2022
The Great Myths #17: Tales of the Elders of Ireland (Celtic)
The Great Myths #17: Tales of the Elders of Ireland (Celtic)
A reading of selections from The Tales of the Elders of Ireland (Acallam na Senórach). The translation I read from is that of Ann Dooley and Harry Roe. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:10:59
March 22, 2022
"That Jane Goodall Tramp" // So Long, Lawrence Ferlinghetti
"That Jane Goodall Tramp" // So Long, Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Another two-part episode: The first part is a scattershot on Jane Goodall’s appearance in Gary Larson’s The Far Side; my daughter’s reaction to hearing The Beatles’ “Revolution 9” for the first time; and thinking again about what Joan Didion taught me about jealousy, and what Leon Wieseltier’s 1996 book, Kaddish, can add to it. The second part (begins at 35:54) is a repeat from a 2/23/2021 episode, following the death of the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
50:21
March 14, 2022
First Person: Funeral Home Director // Telemarketer
First Person: Funeral Home Director // Telemarketer
Here are two readings from Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs. Beverly Valentine, Funeral Home Director Jason Groth, Telemarketing Group Supervisor Depending on the response, this might become a regular format for episodes going forward, putting two different episodes into one, simply for ease of listening. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
46:10
March 08, 2022
The Earliest Bookstores I Remember // Picasso's "Guernica"
The Earliest Bookstores I Remember // Picasso's "Guernica"
Tonight’s episode is split into two parts: In the first, I take up a listener’s request to talk about my memories of bookstores; In the second, I read from two recent books about Pablo Picasso’s Guernica. The books I read from are Simon Schama's The Power of Art and John Richardson's Life of Picasso, Volume 4: The Minotaur Years. The second part of the episode begins at 45:08. Depending on the response, this might become a regular format for episodes going forward, putting two different episodes into one, simply for ease of listening. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:20:51
March 02, 2022
Advice from Joan Didion, Stanley Kunitz, Billy Collins & Alice Munro
Advice from Joan Didion, Stanley Kunitz, Billy Collins & Alice Munro
A return to a series of podcasts that I haven't done since last year, where I take a quotation from another writer/artist/etc. on creativity, and just talk about it. Today's quotes come from essayist/novelist, Joan Didion, the poets Stanley Kunitz and Billy Collins, and the short story writer, Alice Munro. Preceding this is a few minutes of talking about how important it seems to be for an artist to be associated with a certain place--Dickens with London, Robert Frost with New England, etc. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
57:47
February 25, 2022
Jealousy, Part 2
Jealousy, Part 2
An episode from 2/21/22: Tonight, I continue the discussion of jealousy that has threaded its way through a handful of episodes on this podcast (including Jealousy Part 1). The bulk of this episode is spent talking about the essayist and novelist Joan Didion, whose fairly affluent lifestyle belied many of my merely defensive (and indeed jealous) notions about just how truly talented the rich or well-off could really be. At the same time, though, I make what I think is a fair point: after listening to Didion's memoir about her husband's death, The Year of Magical Thinking, I notice how unfortunate it is that, out of all the memoirs of love and long marriage and mourning that are published, of course the one by Didion becomes a bestseller. A similarly brilliant and moving book, written by an unknown widow about her unknown husband, would likely never achieve the prominence that Didion's book has, and that's a shame. So that while my jealousy and defensiveness in the face of those who are well-off, and those who are famous, can easily be seen as petty, at some point it does highlight a real disparity in our culture, on the basic level of whose voices we hear, and whose stories we are told. There is a great sense that many of us, who have few connections and who will never be well known, are barely scraping by (creatively, financially, and otherwise), while those with even half a foot in the door can game the system without even really trying. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
31:17
February 21, 2022
The Great Myths #16: The Story of Taliesin (Celtic)
The Great Myths #16: The Story of Taliesin (Celtic)
A reading of the Welsh story about the poet and seer, Taliesin, as found in the mid-sixteenth century Hanes Taliesin. The translation I use comes from Patrick K. Ford's The Mabinogi & Other Medieval Welsh Tales. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
01:09:29
February 14, 2022
Anthology: Poems by William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Louise Bogan, Anne Bradstreet, Henry Vaughan
Anthology: Poems by William Blake, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Louise Bogan, Anne Bradstreet, Henry Vaughan
A reading of five poems: Louise Bogan (1897-1970), “The Alchemist” Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), Sonnets from the Portuguese #41 (“I thank all who have loved me in their hearts”) William Blake (1757-1827), from Milton (“I come in self-annihilation”), from Jerusalem(“Trembling I sit day and night”) Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672), “The Author to Her Book” Henry Vaughan, (1621-1695) “The Book” Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
33:08
February 07, 2022
Anthology: Poems by Eavan Boland, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wordsworth, Milton, Philip Sidney
Anthology: Poems by Eavan Boland, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wordsworth, Milton, Philip Sidney
A reading of five poems: Eavan Boland, “The Making of An Irish Goddess” Gerard Manley Hopkins, “That Nature Is a Heraclitean Fire and of the Comfort of the Resurrection” William Wordsworth, “London, 1802” John Milton, ending to Paradise Lost Philip Sidney, “Loving in truth” Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
28:13
February 04, 2022
Ted Hughes: Selected Poems
Ted Hughes: Selected Poems
A collection of all of Ted Hughes’s poetry that I have recorded and posted here over the past year. They can all be found in his Collected Poems (smaller selections of his poetry include Selected Poems 1957-1994 and A Ted Hughes Bestiary). Rather than organizing my readings of Hughes’s poetry chronologically, I start with what seems to me his best poetry (and some of the best poetry in English, period)—that is, the poetry he published between 1970 and 1983. Only after these are his first three collections read from; the readings after that pick up his later career. A full table of contents can be downloaded here (it is too large to paste into the episode description). Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
04:33:38
January 31, 2022
T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"
T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"
A reading of T. S. Eliot’s 1922 poem, The Waste Land. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
29:46
January 28, 2022
Standing on Two Feet & the Evolution of Language
Standing on Two Feet & the Evolution of Language
A reading from a handful of sections from Steven Mithen’s book The Prehistory of the Mind: A Search for the Origins of Art, Religion and Science. (That book is an identical reissue to the one first published that I read, with a slightly different title, as The Prehistory of the Mind: The Cognitive Origins of Art and Science). Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
32:07
January 24, 2022
Seamus Heaney's Origin Story
Seamus Heaney's Origin Story
A reading of interviews with Seamus Heaney, on his discovery and growth into poetry from boyhood through university. As usual, these remarks come from Dennis O’Driscoll’s book-length collection of interviews with Heaney, Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
36:44
January 21, 2022
Anthology: Poems by William Carlos Williams, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Emily Brontë, Alexander Pope, Roy Fisher
Anthology: Poems by William Carlos Williams, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Emily Brontë, Alexander Pope, Roy Fisher
A reading of five poems: The Entertainment of War, by Roy Fisher (1930-2017) Danse Russe, by William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) “The night is darkening round me,” by Emily Brontë (1818-1848) Work Without Hope, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) Ode on Solitude, by Alexander Pope (1688-1744) Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately.
26:24
January 18, 2022
The Great Myths #15: The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne (Celtic)
The Great Myths #15: The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne (Celtic)
An episode from 1/15/22: Tonight we read from perhaps the great love story from the Middle Ages, since without it there would be no romance of Tristan and Isolde. How the Irish story of Gráinne, a young woman who casts a magic spell and puts her wedding party to sleep (she has just been married to a much older man) so that she can run off with a man named Diarmuid instead--how this tale grew and changed in the hands of British and continental authors and eventually became Wagner's opera is interesting enough, but even more is the original story. While the tale itself goes back to the tenth century, I read from a version dating to 1651, The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne (Tóraigheacht Dhiarmada agus Ghráinne). I also read from the introduction, where we learn how important the story was to its original Irish audience. For example, as the title says, the story is a pursuit--the pursuit of the eloped couple by the "wronged" husband--and it was common for local communities, attached to the story as they were, to refer to parts of their own landscape (hills, caves, dolmens, etc