Monday, February 2, 2009

Blog Talk Radio, December 18, 2008


In previous columns, I've highlighted poetry readings and poetry journals (both online and printed) as sources for those interested in poetry to hear and read good contemporary work. Another recently-developed source of good contemporary poetry is blog talk radio.

Until recently, recordings of great poets reading their own work as young men and women were virtually nonexistent, making it difficult to trace the development of the poet's ideas, sources, and techniques across their career. This dearth of recordings was partially due to the simple fact that it is very difficult to predict which young poets will become great ones. It was also due, however, to the cost involved in making such a recording. Companies creating such recordings were necessarily quite selective.

The advent of the internet and online "talk shows" has changed that. Now blog talk radio features numerous poetry shows that record live readings of poetry by the poets themselves. Because these readings are inexpensive to produce, recordings are made on a weekly basis, greatly increasing the number of poets who can be recorded. Even better, the readings are archived on the shows' websites, meaning that most future "great" poets will have been recorded reading and talking about their own work in their youth. Imagine how useful this will be as a research tool for future students of poetry. Another advantage of this format is that the audience does not have to tune in at a particular time, but can listen to the recorded show anytime they like.

The Jane Crown Show and the Joe Milford Poetry Show are two of the best of these shows. Both are broadcast at, and their archived shows can be accessed there or on their own websites: and respectively. Crown will celebrate the first anniversary of her show in January while Milford has been doing his show for slightly less time. The two shows have already established, however, an impressive collection of recordings, including such national notables as C.D. Wright, Stephen Dunn, Ron Silliman, Tony Hoagland, and Bob Hicok.

I've been on the Joe Milford Poetry Show twice, and from the poet's perspective one of the greatest things about the show's format is that the readings are 90-minutes long. This gives the poet the opportunity to share a significant portion of a single collection, giving the listener an in-depth look at a single work, or to share several poems from multiple collections, revealing the writer's breadth of form and content.

Visitors to the shows' websites will find, in addition to nationally-known poets, numerous NC poets of note as well, including M. Scott Douglass, Alex Grant, and Dan Albergotti. Of particular interest to poetry lovers in the Catawba County area will be the reading by CVCC Instructor, Tim Peeler, slated for February 1 on the The Jane Crown Show.

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