Literary Listening Ears

Oh, blog. Hello again. You are the neglected child of my writing life. I’ve put you off until it seemed nothing I wrote could justify the extended silence under which I have buried you in the great catacombs of the internet. Now I am digging you back up. Now I am inscribing words on you: clumsy words, but a beginning nonetheless.

Yeah, so I didn’t really blog this summer. And besides not blogging, I also didn’t do as much reading as I originally planned. Life, job, move…the list of excuses continues. So this is my attempt at a new topic for my first post in a while: I realized that I did do a fair amount of listening to other people’s words.

For example: earlier in the summer I had the privilege of participating in Wavesday, a community event organized by poet Caroline Knapp to honor Virginia Woolfe’s The Waves by reading it together (the entire book) all day. The readings began with sunrise at 6:00 a.m. in Fort Collins and continued until the sun set, and it was beautiful. Not just because The Waves is a beautiful book, but because people came together just to read out loud and listen to each other read out loud. There is something about being read to while reading out loud to others that is particularly compelling. I’ve been thinking about it ever since that day in June.

Not exactly the same, but close, is being read to by an author. And here’s the great thing: you can still go to live readings to hear writing come alive with that special power of the spoken word, but now you can also listen to an author read his/her work at any time of your choosing! The Colorado Review is one literary journal that has bravely put out a podcast series which allows writers to record themselves reading their poems and then puts them on iTunes for people to download free. It’s really quite a treat to hear a writer put the inflection on words of their own making, and to get a multimedia taste of their poetry that includes background music. I’ve been listening to it a lot for inspiration. Finding it hard to get in the reading or writing mode first thing in the morning? Listen to a poem to get your brain going while you drink your coffee.

Other places to look for audio versions include Matthew Antonio’s website Little Machines. Antonio has audio versions of some of his stories available on his new website, where he’s taking a new approach to publishing by allowing people to choose how they want to experience his work. Talk about inspiration: explore this site for new approaches to short story forms and the world at large.

When I haven’t been listening to literature specifically, or reading it out loud, I’ve listened radio episodes about literature via SheWrites.com. They have quite the prolific podcast series, ranging from interviews with writers like Francine Prose to panel discussions on how to write about your family and friends. These are the kinds of things you want to download to your iPod and listen to in the car or while running, etc. I have a thing about listening to news radio or podcasts while I’m cooking, and I listened to tons of SheWrites podcasts this summer while I was painting my kitchen. I don’t think audio versions of writing can ever take the place of a good book, but they are a helpful way to keep your life literary when it’s starting to feel so crowded with everything else.

I would love to hear other people’s ideas for places to find audio versions of creative work and how they use these. Recommendations for good books to run or cook with? Also, where is the best place you’ve found to get them on a budget?

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2 responses to “Literary Listening Ears

  1. “You are the neglected child of my writing life” this has me in stitches and I have absolutely no idea why, except for the fact that I just find it so FUNNY.

    ahahahaha.

    I subscribed, because you’re amazing.

    :)

    uponatlas.

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