First Person

First Person: Voices from 1900-1914 Human Voices Wake Us

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:

  • There’s worry over the spread of new technology and how it perhaps cheapens everyday life
  • There’s deep paranoia over changes in previously stable gender roles
  • There’s a desperate need to find a grand solution to all of our problems—in this case, in the embrace of eugenics
  • And there is, on the one hand, an immense faith that “progress” of all kinds will wipe away things like poverty, war, or religion; while, on the other hand, there is such an overriding feeling of powerlessness in the face of science, culture, and rapid change, that many feared the collapse of civilization altogether

I read these voices here to suggest that the feelings of emergency, then and now, are perhaps misplaced. What is actually going on, alongside all the dread? What can we learn from these voices that sound so much like our own, and what will people look back on 2023 learn for themselves?

Each of these quotations can be found in Philipp Blom’s wonderful book, The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914.

Anthology: Poems by Lowell, Clare, Barbauld, Finch, Spenser // First Person: Eudora Welty & Helen Keller Human Voices Wake Us

Another two part episode: in the first, I read five poems: Robert Lowell (1917-1977), “Bobby Delano” John Clare (1793-1864), “An Invite to Eternity” Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825), “A Summer Evening’s Meditation” Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea (1661-1720), “A Nocturnal Reverie” Edmund Spenser (1552?-1599), from The Faerie Queen, Book 3, Canto 6 In the second (starting at 42:00), I read from Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings, and Helen Keller’s The Story of My Life. Both, in their own way, are about each writer’s earliest discovery of words. As with many First Person segments, come from the pages of Lapham’s Quarterly, one of the best collections of voices from history that I know. Consider supporting Human Voices Wake us by clicking here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support

First Person: The Atomic Bomb Human Voices Wake Us

A four-part episode on the atomic bomb, from its development to the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and after, drawn from the words of those who were there. The full text of the quotations used here can be found in the blog versions of these podcasts. The books used to make these episodes are: The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb, by Richard Rhodes American Prometheus: The Triumph & Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin J. Robert Oppenheimer: Shatterer of Worlds, by Peter Goodchild. John Else's documentary, The Day After Trinity, can be watched here. John Bradley's anthology of poets writing about the bomb is Atomic Ghosts: Poets Respond to the Atomic Age. My poem about Robert Oppenheimer can be read here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support

First Person: Funeral Home Director // Telemarketer Human Voices Wake Us

Here are two readings from Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs. Beverly Valentine, Funeral Home Director Jason Groth, Telemarketing Group Supervisor Depending on the response, this might become a regular format for episodes going forward, putting two different episodes into one, simply for ease of listening. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support

First Person: Rome (AD 64) and America (1832) Human Voices Wake Us

A reading from Seneca’s Letters to a Stoic, from c. AD 64; and from Alexis De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, from 1832. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support

First Person: London, c. 1615 Human Voices Wake Us

A reading from chapter six of Peter Ackroyd’s history of early seventeenth-century England, Civil War (or Rebellion, as the book has been retitled in its America, apparently not to upset anybody buying it by accident and hoping to read about a different Civil War). Ackroyd uses two texts to paint a brief picture of London at the time: Thomas Dekker’s The Seven Deadly Sins of London (1607), and Ben Jonson’s play Bartholomew Fair(1614). Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support

First Person: Pompeii (AD 79) & San Francisco (AD 1906) Human Voices Wake Us

An episode from 11/19/21, where I read about two disasters separated by nearly two thousand years: the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in the year 79, and the earthquake that destroyed so much of San Francisco in 1906. A letter from Pliny the younger (read it here) describes Vesuvius and Pompeii, while an article by Jack London (read it here) takes us to San Francisco. I end with a reading of Laurie Sheck's poem "Pompeii," from her 2003 book, Black Series. You can join Human Voices Wake Us on Patreon, or sign up for our newsletter, by clicking here. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support

First Person: A Waitress in Chicago in the 1960s Human Voices Wake Us

A reading from one of my favorite books, Studs Terkel's Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. Here, Terkel interviews a waitress named Dolores Dante. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support

First Person: Vermont, 1940 Human Voices Wake Us

A reading from an interview conducted by the Federal Writer's Project during the 1930s and 1940s. The excerpt comes from the Winter 2019 issue of Lapham's Quarterly, but a larger collection of the interviews can be found in the 2004 book, Men Against Granite.  Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support

First Person: Visiting a Poor Poet in Paris, 1895 Human Voices Wake Us

A reading of Harry Kessler's diary from July 10, 1895, visiting the French poet Paul Veraline. From the English translation by Laird Easton, published as Journey to the Abyss: The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, 1880-1918. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support

First Person: Paris, 1785 Human Voices Wake Us

A reading from Louis-Sébastien Mercier's twelve-volume Le Tableau de Paris. The translation is from Helen Simpson's 1933 selection, The Waiting City: Paris 1782-1788. The excerpt comes from the Winter 2019 issue of Lapham's Quarterly. Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support

First Person: Minnesota at the Turn of the 20th Century Human Voices Wake Us

A reading from Studs Terkel’s book, “American Dreams: Lost & Found.” Here, a man named Andy Johnson talks about his life. Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1565845455 Andy Johnson’s interview is also included in Terkel’s best-of volume, “The Studs Terkel Reader”: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1595581774 Any comments, or suggestions for readings I should make in later episodes, can be emailed to humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com. I assume that the small amount of work presented in each episode constitutes fair use. Publishers, authors, or other copyright holders who would prefer to not have their work presented here can also email me at humanvoiceswakeus1@gmail.com, and I will remove the episode immediately. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/message Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/humanvoiceswakeus/support