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Posts Tagged ‘Poetry Unbound’

journal handwriting poetry elizabeth alexander

Back in the early months of 2020 (which seems a thousand years ago), I stumbled on a new podcast, produced by the good, thoughtful folks at On Being. I am the slowest podcast listener ever, but Poetry Unbound, hosted by Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, saved my life on some of those long, dark evenings in early quarantine.

Now that we’re back to long dark evenings again, I am savoring the second season: an episode here and there, usually while I’m cooking dinner or putting dishes away. I am not much for longform podcasts (I’d rather read a book or an article), but these short, lyrical episodes feel just right to me. They consist of Pádraig reading a poem, then musing on it in several short segments, then reading it again. The repetition is soothing, and I often notice things in the second reading that I missed the first time around.

Pádraig’s poetic commentary includes musings on meter and word choice and metaphor, but he also muses on a range of broad and specific human issues: love and heartbreak, the complications of family and politics, the quiet bravery of healthcare workers, the wisdom of teachers, the utter devastation caused by fire and illness and grief. He is wise and thoughtful and tender, and his voice, with its Irish lilt, is a balm to my ears and my soul. As a serious bonus, many of the poets he features are new to me, and I’ve loved discovering their work alongside him.

What podcasts – or poems – are bringing you life, these days?

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harbor-purple-sunrise

Hello, friends. These are strange times, aren’t they?

Like many people, I’m self-isolating at home these days: working, baking, running, reading, doing yoga, checking in with my people and trying not to go completely crazy. My workplace, like many colleges and universities, is going online for the rest of the semester. We’re all adapting, and I’ve been through the gamut of emotions. I’m sure many of you can relate.

Not surprisingly, one thing that’s helping a bit is poetry: specifically, the luminous new Poetry Unbound podcast from On Being. Narrated by Pádraig Ó Tuama (in his lovely Irish voice), it brings us a new poem every Monday and Friday. (I usually share poetry here on Fridays during April, which is National Poetry Month, but I decided to start early this year.)

This poem was featured in the Feb. 28 episode of Poetry Unbound, and I thought it was beautiful and wise. I hope you enjoy.

Praise the rain, the seagull dive
The curl of plant, the raven talk —
Praise the hurt, the house slack
The stand of trees, the dignity —
Praise the dark, the moon cradle
The sky fall, the bear sleep —
Praise the mist, the warrior name
The earth eclipse, the fired leap —
Praise the backwards, upward sky
The baby cry, the spirit food —
Praise canoe, the fish rush
The hole for frog, the upside-down —
Praise the day, the cloud cup
The mind flat, forget it all —

Praise crazy. Praise sad.
Praise the path on which we’re led.
Praise the roads on earth and water.
Praise the eater and the eaten.
Praise beginnings; praise the end.
Praise the song and praise the singer.

Praise the rain; it brings more rain.
Praise the rain; it brings more rain.

—Joy Harjo

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