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.

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church

but you spend this Sunday      with me,
on the spring garden bench      reading poems
from your small hand-sewn fascicles,      never published,
but for here and now,      where God
preaches     –    and the sermon is never long.

reading garden

This poem recalls – and borrows lines – from Emily Dickinson, whose poems I was reading this morning.

Emily Dickinson,
poet of the interior life,
poems were written quietly in a room of her own,
often hand-stitched in small volumes,
then hidden in a drawer.
She died without fame,
only a few poems were published in her lifetime, and those anonymously.
All of the poems were later published
at first altered by editors or publishers according to the fashion of the day,
rather than in the unique style that Emily intended for them.

The volume I was reading is The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition which has 1,789 poems with Dickinson’s spelling, punctuation, and capitalization intact.

Gorgeous Nothings

Poems on used envelopes. New England frugality.

Never meant for someone. Meant for everyone.

Answering mail with verse. And remaining silent.

Crossings-out, dashes, spaces, columns, and overlapping planes.

One poem for each of fifty-two weeks.


poem

These two books present the later writings of Emily Dickinson – the 52 envelope poems. Click images for Amazon links.

envelope poem

You can also view a digital collection of these envelope poems on the Amherst College website at https://acdc.amherst.edu/browse/collection/ed