“”What the hell the tooth is doing there, I don’t know, but I love it.” Ryan Van Winkle
Ryan Van Winkle is currently Poet in Residence at Edinburgh City Libraries following a similar stint as the Scottish Poetry Library’s first-ever Reader in Residence. This is how I first discovered him as the host of the SPL’s weekly poetry podcast which he curates with charismatic aplomb. His second collection, The Good Dark, won the Saltire Society’s 2015 Poetry Book of the Year award. His poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, The American Poetry Review, AGNI, Poetry New Zealand and The Oxford Poets series. DISCUSSED: Unfolding Poems; Illogical Teeth; The Lost Son; Coming Open To Closed Poems; She is Fucking/Human (Divergent Synapses Firing); The Misery That Is Going To Pass
In the last few days, two events have played themselves out. To be more precise: an almost infinite number of events have occured if you’re willing to squish down to the atomic and subatomic (which I am). Yesterday, for example, a posse of geo-neutrino particles, 1,800 miles below the earth’s surface, instead of just passing through the gooey core of molten metal with zero interaction (as anti-matter is wont to do), Continue reading →
Whilst preparing this podcast for your tympanic membranes, I’ve found myself again and again drawn to YouTube in order to get an eyeful of pants. And because these pants are American, I of course mean trousers. Continue reading →
“Try and imagine what this great pond, quite unglamorous and muddy, this dirty-watered pond looks like when you don’t impose yourself, your whole history, or the history of a culture on it; when you just let yourself see it.” Josh Cohen
Josh Cohen is a psychoanalyst in private practice, and Professor of Modern Literary Theory at Goldsmiths University of London. He is the author of Interrupting Auschwitz (2003), How to Read Freud (2005), and The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark (2013) . DISCUSSED: Definite indefinite plain-ness; slipping on fallen leaves (inside and out); the mind stripped down to its essence; the end of the imagination; the rescuing As If; counting Cohen’s innards; the fierce desire of speaking; staying true to what-is; the emotional pressure to find the words; father to a sister of a thought; the necessity of fantastic failed efforts; the illusion of fullness; deprivation as a first condition; carrying the minor house within; getting to grips with our unsurpassables; rat-vision; the reassuring loopiness of the self; hopefully in the dark. LINKS:
Here’s a jug of story water to put into your morning kettle. When I was living in Milan in the early 90s, with all the potential and fear that being a young adult entails, the floorboards of our flat would often chant to me: Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō, Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō, Nam-Myōhō-Renge-Kyō. It was quite relentless. Mornings, evenings, a constant reverberating drone of confounding vocalisations. I would put my ear to the floor and feel it (also something in me) shiver. Continue reading →
“Something I find really moving is the timelessness of our struggles. Herbert probably wouldn’t have been diagnosed with a depressive illness, but we now know that he had terrible battles and internal struggles. To me this poem describes that perfectly. There’s something very powerful about holding hands across the centuries.“Rachel Kelly
Rachel Kelly is a journalist and writer with a long standing interest in mental health. She worked at The Times for ten years as a reporter, feature writer and columnist, and then went on to create an acclaimed educational poetry app and accompanying anthology with Allie Esiri. Her most recent book ‘Black Rainbow’ (2014) describes how poetry helped her overcome depression.
Imagine a small tribe living on the edge of the savannah. A tribe with it’s requisite, antler festooned Poet-Philosopher-Shaman doing her shape shifting, neologising, bewilderment making best to entertain us. What he or she presents to the tribe on a daily basis is fruit of a kind of psycho-poetic labour. Maybe couched in a technically tricky and arcane form like a sestina, or terza rima, stuffed to the gills with near and slant rhymes, the individual quest is synthesized for collective consumption. So important is this work for those who gather to listen or read that the creator of these poems is rewarded with the highest accolades. For her cooking pot: the tastiest morsels from the hunt. For her feet: incredibly warm and cosy winter slippers made from aardwolf pelts. Fast-forward a million years, and we (the tribe) still need and thankfully have such people amongst us, such as Niall O’Sullivan, and his Mundane Comedy project (which alas, is no more, but all the work remains online). For me the Mundane Comedy was a 1o pm thing. Each night, just before going to bed, Niall’s daily posting about fatherhood, Herne Hill, fair trade houmous, Star Wars, monarchism, the London riots, or whatever he thought needed to be processed that day for himself and us would pop into my inbox, and suddenly I’d be made a few stanzas more savvy about the world and my place in it. [Read the poem before listening to the podcast + some more info about Poetry Unplugged which Niall hosts each Tuesday at the The Poetry Café in London]
My parents were probably not hip enough to read me Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. You can’t really get more hip, as a writer of children’s books (and “A Boy Named Sue”), than have Johnny Cash introduce you thus: “Sometimes he wears a beard and shaves his head. Sometimes he shaves his beard and wears his head. And sometimes he’s lonesome….” Alom Shaha is also hip. Richard Dawkins with extra heart is how I’d introduce him, and I’m sticking with that after our reading together. I’m also buying my three-year-old niece and one-year-old nephew a copy of hisYoung Atheist’s Handbook for Chrismukkah, so that they won’t be able to level the non-hip slur in 30 year’s time against me on whatever new fandanglement replaces blogs and websites. [Intro tune: Latché Swing]
If you’re one of those people who claims to never have self-googled, then either a) You’re lying, or b) you have the self-discipline of a saint, or c) you’re lying. ↩
Apologies to all our Chinese listeners for my pronunciation of Han’s surname in this podcast. I give it as DONG like King KONG, rather than utilising, as Nicky does, the more elegant, and presumably more phonologically correct schwa sound ↩
"The title says it all. Read Me Something You Love invites literary lovers to select a piece of writing which excites them. Steve Wasserman, then trundles around to your home with his mobile recording studio in an attempt to translate the pleasure of the reading aloud experience to a wider audience.
“One of the joys of doing this is being open to the experience of how other people’s enthusiasms will wing their way into your life and get you all gee’d up about stories or poems you might never have glanced at twice,” says Wasserman.
Anyone can take part, just email your suggestions to Steve. The only real requirement is that your selection has proved spine-tingling to you in some way. Readings are limited to 20-25 minutes, so a short story, a well-chosen extract or a poem are perfect.
Time to start practicing in the mirror methinks."
"I don’t know about you, but seeing someone read a book on the Tube often gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that this potentially wasted part of the day is enriched by a good book. The rarity of book lovers gracing the seats of the Underground these days makes me feel both sad and like I’m in a secret club that is only acknowledged by a sideways glance at the books of fellow commuters.
So on discovering the Human Reading Being blog, part of the Read Me Something You Love project, I was terrified that I’d spot a terrible picture of myself reading something embarrassing and then overjoyed that this humble daily habit is being celebrated.
Read Me Something You Love involves Steve Wasserman asking authors and non-authors alike, to read a piece of literature they love before leading a discussion on the piece. If you love submerging yourself in the imagination of others, come and celebrate this dying pastime."