The Ronka Leaves the Nest

I think my ronka poetry form has, for me at least, left the nest. I have now crossed the 100 podcasts mark. I have done 80 of those so far in 2022 (which is Season 2). There are about 830 ronka poems on the website, so the podcast is still far behind though I do try to add poems from the archive once a week too.

There are almost 2400 followers of the site, which is a bigger audience than I have ever had at a poetry reading. The podcast doesn’t have a following like that. Then again, I don’t do much to promote it. I just imagine people will find it if they are searching for poetry on any of the platforms I have put them on. The most popular places to listen are Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, Anchor, and Google Podcasts. They are also on Pocket Casts, RadioPublic and Breaker.

If you haven’t tried the podcast versions of the poems, give one of those links a try. The programs only run for one to maybe three minutes, so it’s not a big time investment. I wasn’t sure if I would keep the poems going all this time – but I have kept it at least a weekly habit after my 365 poems practice in 2014. I’m not sure about the podcast – but I’ll keep at it until the end of 2022 at least and finish season 2.

Listening to Someone Else Reading Your Poem

On another blog of mine, I post occasionally about what I am listening to in the podcast/online/radio world.  One daily podcast I enjoy is The Writer’s Almanac which has been on radio since 1993 and, sadly, it will be ending after May 2022. It ran on public radio through 2017 and those episodes are archived online. Later, the show was available as a podcast and online on the Garrison Keillor’s website.

Garrison Keillor

I had listened to Garrison Keillor starting in 1974 on his radio show A Prairie Home Companion. I loved that voice and his ad-libbed weekly stories of the fictional town of Lake Wobegon.  I went on to read his short stories and novels. You can label him an author, storyteller, humorist, voice actor, and radio personality. He hosted that show through 2016 when he retired and passed the reins over to others.

I was lucky to have four of my poems featured on the Almanac and read by Keillor. I really enjoy hearing other people read my poems and that is not something I get to experience very often. It is interesting to hear the little spins and turns that someone else will take with your words.

I am posting links to those poems here – even though they are not my usual ronka poems. You can read the poems online, but I strongly recommend that you listen to him read the poems. The poems are at the end of the program, so you could fast-forward through the news, but I enjoy the almanac news about the day as much, sometimes even more, as the poem.

This photo shows the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, New Jersey. This Gothic beauty was the original setting and inspiration for my poem, “Shame.”

The Alamanac program featured two of my serious poems – “The Light We Leave Behind,”- and “Shame, They also selected two poems that have the tongue at least partially in the cheek . The first is “Who Shows Up at My Poetry Reading” and the second is titled “Somewhat Optimistic Horoscopes.” I was also asked to record a video of myself reading some of those poems for their YouTube channel.

“Who Shows Up at My Poetry Reading” portrays the kinds of people I actually have had show up at poetry readings. The poem often gets laughs when I read it, though fellow poets may be more likely to just nod in recognition.

My poem, “Somewhat Optimistic Horoscopes,” came from reading my horoscope online. Those short-form horoscopes tend to be pretty positive, though you might get a cautionary prediction once in a while. What I thought was missing were ones that were somewhere in-between.

A Week for Emily

Emily Dickinson’s poems are not my favorite poems, but Emily is one of my favorite poets.

Emily

When I first read her in high school, I liked some lines but the entire poems didn’t really make a lot of sense to me.

May 15 is the day she died in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1886. She had been in ill health for about two and a half years and was confined to her bed for the last seven months of her life. Medical historians now believe that she was suffering from severe high blood pressure because she complained of headaches and nausea and, near the end of her life, she struggled to breathe. Eventually, she lapsed into a coma. She would not allow her doctor to come to her bedside but would only consent that he could walk past the doorway. He listed her cause of death as “Bright’s disease,” which was a catchall diagnosis that included kidney disease as well as hypertension.

Emily was very close to her sister-in-law Susan Gilbert Dickinson wrote the poet’s obituary. Emily left specific instructions for her burial including that her casket was carried by the family’s six Irish hired men on a route that wound its way past her flower garden, through the barn and a field of buttercups.

Very few of her nearly 1,800 poems were published during her lifetime and what was published was done so anonymously. Emily wanted her poems and letters to be burned. After Emily’s death, her sister, Lavinia, discovered hundreds of poems that Emily had written over the years. The first volume, The Poems of Emily Dickinson, was published in 1890 but it was severely edited and changed to fit current fashion and not to follow Emily’s unique style.

I have a half dozen poems on this site related to Emily. Only one has been made into a podcast – “A Lock of Emily Dickinson’s Hair” – so this week I am going to revisit those other poems and create podcast versions. It’s a week for Emily.

Podcast Update

microphone

It has been a month since our last update about the podcast version of Writing the Day, and there have been more updates to the podcast archive. 

The podcasts are now avavilable on Stitcher (which is what I use on a daily basis for my podcast listening) and also on Apple Podcasts, on Anchor (which is where they are recorded and hosted), on Spotify (which is our most listened to source) and on Google Podcasts, as well as on Reason.fm and some other platforms. Are we spread out too much?

There are now more than 50 of these little poem podcasts and looking at the latest analytics, here are some new findings about our audience.

The audience is 78% male. That very much surprises me. In our small world of poetry, there are far more women writing poetry, and I assumed the listeners to a poetry podcast would follow suit. Not true so far.

gender

The tech breakdown isn’t as surprising. Windows beats out Mac users, as it has always done, but the iPhone is giving website computer users a run for the money. That undefined “other” group is a big 25% chunk. Are they on tablets, Android phones or what?

Operating Systems & Devices

And when it comes to the age of listeners, about 20% of our listeners are in the age range of 24 to 38, but about 80% are 60 or older. 

 

Latest Episode

The Voices

Poems are said to have a voice. I found one definition that says that voice, simply put, is the person behind the words that speaks to the audience. The literal voice is, of course, the person reading or reciting the words, but that is not what poets really think about when they discuss voice.

Voice is made up of many poetic elements such as tone, imagery, rhythm, diction, punctuation, and more. These things work together to give a unique color and expression to our words. Voice builds an overall style or point of view of the poet. We can think of it as the voice inside the reader’s head. It is the voice that is heard even if the words are on paper or a screen.

For podcasts, a poem has a literal voice. We can use a synthetic voice to record a podcast version of the website post. For example, this post is being read by the voice of Remy.

Yesterday, I posted four poems from this site using the synthetic voice of Cassidy. Those posts are each just a poem. That is 35 words. They are not really meant for podcasting. 35 words will clock in at less than a minute each. That is not exactly what people expect for a podcast, but when I started this project back in 2014, a podcast version of the poems was not part of the plan.

I do plan to record some of the older poems that seem to have attracted the most attention over the past nine years. I’ll record them in my own voice – that is, Ken will record them. And he will probably add some background about the poem as he has been doing lately which will increase the length of the podcast a bit. Perhaps up to a few minutes in length.

(It is strange to write this post in a kind of third person, but if the “I” is Remy reading, rather than Ken reading, it needs to be that way.)

Will the “I” be Remy or Ken in future podcasts?  I think it will be Ken’s voice. But there may still be a place for Remy and Cassidy along the way.



The photo used to illustrate this post is by George Milton and is available on Pexels.com

Podcast Note

I have been delinquent in my recording of poems from this site for the podcast version of Writing the Day.

I am recording several of the new poems today and I will release one each day for the next week or so.

I sometimes feel like I’m sending these out into the deepest corners of the universe but no one hears them. But then I look at the analytics for the podcasts and see the countries that have listened and the platforms they used to listen and I realize there is someone out there hearing them.

countries

Contries Accessing the Podcast

 

platforms

Platforms Used

 

If you have listened and have any comments or suggestions, you can put them on this post.