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From the Archives:

  • Anthology: Poems on How to Live (new episode)

    Anthology: Poems on How to Live (new episode)

    Tonight I read a handful of poems on the theme of How to live, what to do? How to get by in the world as a devotee of culture, solitude, ritual, beauty, tradition and individuality? There is of course no one answer, and anyway, poetry should stay as far away from direct “advice,” or proscription…

  • Anthology: Love Poems from Four Centuries (new episode)

    Anthology: Love Poems from Four Centuries (new episode)

    Tonight I ask the question: what is love, and what is love poetry? Are poems about family and friendship love poems, just as much as those about romantic feeling, and longing, and heartbreak? And even more: what is romantic love? What, for instance, did T. S. Eliot mean when he said, “Love is most nearly…

  • Van Gogh: Starry Nights & Sunflowers

    Van Gogh: Starry Nights & Sunflowers

    An episode from 7/27/22: Tonight, I read from Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith’s Van Gogh: The Life, sharing the sections covering Van Gogh’s two Starry Night paintings, and his many paintings of sunflowers. Before these images became as ubiquitous as Michelangelo’s David, they were the product of a largely unknown artist who was working…

  • The Great Myths #15: The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne (Celtic)

    The Great Myths #15: The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne (Celtic)

    An episode from 1/15/22: Tonight we read from perhaps the great love story from the Middle Ages, since without it there would be no romance of Tristan and Isolde. How the Irish story of Gráinne, a young woman who casts a magic spell and puts her wedding party to sleep (she has just been married…

  • Advice from Charles Dickens & Alice Munro (new episode)

    Advice from Charles Dickens & Alice Munro (new episode)

    Tonight we hear from two great writers of fiction, Charles Dickens and Alice Munro. Through a handful of readings from Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens: A Life, we see how Dickens (1812-1870) was able to juggle, for almost a year, the writing of two novels simultaneously, both for serial publication. Thanks to a letter written by…

  • Poem: “Cauldron & Drink”

    Poem: “Cauldron & Drink”

    An episode from 8/22/21: Tonight, I read a poem of mine called “Cauldron & Drink.” It was originally published in Crannóg back in 2016, and appears with my other poems from prehistoric Europe in Bone Antler Stone. The poem was certainly inspired by the famous Gundestrup Cauldron, but more generally it is an ode to…

  • Advice to a Young Poet from Ezra Pound

    Advice to a Young Poet from Ezra Pound

    An episode from 10/25/20: A reading from the poet W. S. Merwin’s memoir, The Mays of Ventadorn, where he recalls meeting the poet Ezra Pound in 1949. Merwin, who died in 2019 at the age of ninety-one, was just starting out when he paid a visit to Pound. For his part, by 1949 Ezra Pound…

  • First Person: Voices from 1900-1914 (new episode)

    First Person: Voices from 1900-1914 (new episode)

    For this first episode of 2023, I read a handful of voices from those living in Europe and the United States between 1900 and 1914. Rephrased only slightly, nearly all of their concerns feel like they could appear in the news or on the street today: I read these voices here to suggest that the…

  • Seamus Heaney: 7 Poems from “North”

    Seamus Heaney: 7 Poems from “North”

    An episode from 6/22/21: From nearly from the first week or two it went live, this episode has remained the most popular I’ve ever done. It not only features excerpts from one of the great poetry collections of the twentieth century–Seamus Heaney’s North, from 1975–but it also includes readings of interviews with him on the writing…

  • Old Friends

    Old Friends

    An episode from 10/11/22:  Tonight I talk about a dear friend from my youth, who made a great impact on me from my late teens and into my early twenties. I met him when he was probably in his early fifties, although he looked much, much older. By that time he had already lived quite…

  • The Great Myths #22: The Story of Ragnarok in the Norse Eddas (new episode)

    The Great Myths #22: The Story of Ragnarok in the Norse Eddas (new episode)

    How did the Viking Norse tell a story as important as Ragnarok (the end of the world) in poetry, and then in prose? What does prose require that poetry does not, and vice-versa, and especially when the accounts we have are separated by centuries of historical change, and religious conversion?  In this third episode on…

  • Jung’s Great Dream

    Jung’s Great Dream

    An episode from 10/15/20: Only the third episode in this podcast (and you can hear it in my voice, where I still sound a little uncomfortable), tonight I read Carl Jung’s description of his famous “Dream of the House.” In the dream, Jung walks from the top floor and down through the rest of the…

  • Poem: “Unfinished Michelangelo”

    Poem: “Unfinished Michelangelo”

    An episode from 9/28/21: Tonight, I read a poem of mine called “Unfinished Michelangelo.” It was originally published at the Basil O’Flaherty back in 2016. The entire poem takes up Michelangelo’s many unfinished works, but it begins, specifically, talking about his unfinished slave sculptures. You can read the poem below, as well as a longer…

  • Jealousy, Part 2

    Jealousy, Part 2

    An episode from 2/21/22: Tonight, I continue the discussion of jealousy that has threaded its way through a handful of episodes on this podcast (including Jealousy Part 1). The bulk of this episode is spent talking about the essayist and novelist Joan Didion, whose fairly affluent lifestyle belied many of my merely defensive (and indeed…

  • Notes from the Grid: Simple Awareness

    Notes from the Grid: Simple Awareness

    An episode from 5/25/22: Tonight, I conclude with the last in a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. The first essay, “Simple Awareness,” is followed by “The Uncomfortable, Unsolvable Middle” (begins at 20:30).The series concludes with “All Its Ways” (starts at 48:40) Taken together, these last three sections ask why it is, in the…

  • William Carlos Williams: 11 Essential Poems (new episode)

    William Carlos Williams: 11 Essential Poems (new episode)

    Tonight, I read eleven essential poems from the American poet William Carlos Williams (1883-1963). His poems can be found in The Collected Poems Volume I: 1909-1939, The Collected Poems Volume II: 1939-1962, and Paterson. The biographies I read from are Paul Mariani’s William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked, and the essay on Williams’ life…

  • Notes from the Grid: The Perpetual Adolescent

    Notes from the Grid: The Perpetual Adolescent

    An episode from 5/16/22: Tonight, I continue with the fourth episode in a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. The first section is called “Civilization Does Not Civilize,” and it hinges on a remark by the critic George Steiner. While many of us believe that an interest in art and culture can be some…

  • Notes from the Grid: All Things Can Console

    Notes from the Grid: All Things Can Console

    An episode from 5/9/22: Tonight, I continue with the third episode in a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. The first section is called “All Things Can Console,” and again I use our experience of criticism (in art or culture) to simply say that we need not take it so seriously. When the writer…

  • Notes from the Grid: To Criticize the Critic

    Notes from the Grid: To Criticize the Critic

    An episode from 5/2/22: Tonight, I continue with the second in a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. It might as well be subtitled: How We Live Now, and along the way I take up things like technology, education, privacy, creativity, what it means to be an adolescent and what it means to be…

  • Notes from the Grid: Rediscovering the Hidden Life

    Notes from the Grid: Rediscovering the Hidden Life

    An episode from 4/26/22: Tonight, I begin a five-part series called Notes from the Grid. It might as well be subtitled: How We Live Now, and along the way I take up things like technology, education, privacy, creativity, what it means to be an adolescent and what it means to be middle-aged, and so much…