Let’s talk about podcasts. In late 2014, a slew of articles and tweets hit the internet, declaring our time “The Golden Age of Podcasts.” I can see no evidence of this changing in 2015. “Serial” (a true-crime drama) continues to draw in large amounts of listeners, as do shows like “This American Life” and “Radiolab.” Recently (as in the last few weeks), I have found myself increasingly drawn towards podcasts. I listen to them as I get ready in the morning, as I prepare turkey sandwiches for lunch or pasta for dinner, and in the quiet moments before I fall asleep at night. I hear podcasts are also great for car commutes, but since I don’t really drive, I can’t comment on that. I will say that they don’t require the same sort of attention as a video or a written work and they are often relatively brief. Perfect for when I am applying eyeliner before class (symmetrical cat eyes can be a devil to get right).
In addition, I find that there is an essential auditory element to all good creative writing, and especially to poetry. How a piece looks on the page is important but so, too, is how it sounds. That’s why we read the poems aloud at Opus meetings. That’s why VWS readings can be so special and enthralling. Perhaps it all hearkens back to the days of oral literature, to the Vedas and the Gathas and the Odyssey, and to the incantations found in Gaelic.
Regardless of the origins, there is no doubt in my mind that there is something magical about reciting. And about listening. So, without further ado, I have included below a few podcasts that could be described as ‘literary’ (or, at least, as helpful for burgeoning writers). Hopefully, you’ll find them just as magical as I do.
Note: I have listened to many of the podcasts on this list, but there are some that I have not had the opportunity to tune into yet. The ones I have not heard all came from various “Best Podcasts” web pages and were highly recommended (so take that as you will).
–99% Invisible: A podcast about design which will help you to see even the most mundane objects in a new light.
–The Memory Palace: Beautiful and often unfamiliar stories from the past. Haunting and unforgettable (fitting, no?).
-Moby Dick Big Read: Each episode features a famous person (such as David Cameron or Benedict Cumberbatch) reading a chapter of the classic.
-Love + Radio: A little like This American Life, but the stories are crazier and the form is freer. You never know exactly what you’re going to get.
–Welcome to Night Vale: How do I begin to describe this one? It’s the story of a fictional and magical town told from the perspective of the community radio host. It’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s creepy, it’s hilarious.
–Poetry Foundation: On their website, you can find everything from lecture podcasts to a series called “Poem of the Day”. A veritable feast of poetry readings.
-Reading Lives: People (and especially up-and-comers in the literary world) talk with the host about the books they love the most.
–The Moth: First created by George Dawes Green in 1997, this is a show that allows storytellers to share a moment from their lives. Past storytellers have included Salman Rushdie and Annie Proulx.
-Selected Shorts: Some of your favourite actors read you some of the best short stories out there. Does it get much better than that?
-The Dead Authors Podcast: The host ‘H.G. Wells’ travels back and forth in time, bringing dead authors to the present so he can interview them before a live audience.
–Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: Exactly what it sounds like.
Have fun listening!