RMSYL 57: I Dwell In Possibilty by Emily Dickinson (read by Laura Barber)

LB3“Although this is specifically a poem that speaks about poetry and the powers of poetry, it also speaks to me about the powers of the imagination. And that’s something I prize in life enormously. What books bring to me is the possibility of not only imagining fictional worlds, but the possibility of imagining what it might be like for someone else, the possibility of empathy.” 


Laura Barber is the editor of four popular poetry anthologies – including the hugely successful Penguin’s Poems for Life – and former ‘Poetry Doctor’ at The School of Life. She is also Editorial Director at Granta Books where her interests range from literary fiction to memoir, reportage, travel, narrative history and nature writing,


Read the poem online: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/182904
Laura’s Poetry Anthologies: http://amzn.to/1qlYlTX
Music used in the podcast: I dwell in possibility 

RMSYL 56: Aubade by Philip Larkin (recited by William Sieghart)

William Sieghart

“Death is something that has come to bite me quite a lot. As so often happens, people turn to poetry in times of grief and need, and therefore my connection to poetry has often been dealing with both loneliness and grieving. That’s perhaps what attracts me to this poem. It seems to say a lot about how I feel about the world and what I have to contend with myself.”  William Sieghart


William Sieghart is founder and Chairman of Forward Thinking, a London-based NGO founded in 2003. FT works with the leadership of all parties on both sides of the divide in the Israel/Palestine conflict.  He is also the founder of the Forward Poetry Prize, Britain’s largest prizes for poetry and National Poetry Day.


The Forward Arts Foundation: http://www.forwardartsfoundation.org/
Forward Thinking: http://www.forwardthinking.org/
Read Aubade online: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/178058
Music used in the podcast: Aubade 

RMSYL 55: Love III by George Herbert (read by Rachel Kelly)

Rachel Kelly reading George Herbert

“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.


Rachel’s website: http://www.rachelkelly.co.uk/
Black Rainbow: http://amzn.to/1n1tQMg

RMSYL 54: Twirling at Ole Miss by Terry Southern (read by Gideon Lewis-Kraus)

Gideon Lewis-Kraus reading Terry Southern

I dislike travel writing about temples, or churches, or mosques, or architecture in general, or, for that matter, trees, or trains, or roads, and especially the Khyber Pass; in fact I think I only like travel writing when it’s not about travel at all but rather about friendship, lies, digression, amateurism, trains, and sex.” Gideon Lewis-Kraus


Gideon Lewis-Kraus is the author of A Sense of Direction, a travel memoir (of sorts). He has written for numerous US publications, including Harper’s, The Believer, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, and others.


Gideon’s website: http://www.gideonlk.com/
Read Terry Southern’s Twirling at Ole Miss in full: http://bit.ly/O7ceVG

RMSYL 53: The Garden Party (read by Emily Midorikawa) vs. Mrs Dalloway (read by Emma Claire Sweeney)

Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa reading

“Because our friendship has been so important to our progress as  writers (as well as human beings), we wanted to find out about friendships between other female authors we loved. We all know quite a lot about male writer friends: Wordsworth & Coleridge, Hemingway & Fitzgerald. But who was Jane Austen’s friend? Who was George Eliot’s? Emma Claire Sweeney & Emily Midorikawa


Emily Midorikawa is a half-English, half-Japanese writer of novels, short stories and non-fiction. She has an MA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia and her work has been published in, amongst others, Aesthetica, Mslexia, The Telegraph, and The Times. She teaches creative writing at City University London, New York University in London and the Open University.

Emma Claire Sweeney’s short stories have been published in the UK, Ireland and the USA. She combines writing with university lecturing, community based writing residencies, and mentoring and editing services for emerging writers. Her current writing, research, and residencies all relate to links between narrative and learning disability.

DISCUSSED: what makes prose timeless; interpersonal warmth & class tension; bang slap etymologies; transgressing boundaries; opposites attract and refract; the perfect segue; SW nails his colours to the mast; ECS does some judicious defending of VW; the Desert Island Discs question; Something Rhymed; gender differences in accomodating competition in friendships


Emma’s website: http://emmaclairesweeney.com/writing/
Emily’s website: http://emilymidorikawa.com/
Something Rhymed: http://somethingrhymed.com/

RMSYL 52: Power Lunching by E.Melvin Pinsel (read by Brian Lobel)

Brian Lobel Reading From Power Lunching by E Marvin Pinsel“The problem the whole book presents is that it’s trying to give you a strategy for getting what you want: out of people, out of things, out of a seat, an outfit, a drink. I hope, personally, my own agenda is a little bit more outward-facing.” Brian Lobel


Brian Lobel create performances about bodies: politicized bodies, marginalized bodies, dancing and singing bodies, happy bodies, sick bodies and bodies that need a little extra love. 

DISCUSSED: C-word alert (not cancer) ; existential #fail; power showers; my father for instance; charisma; I think about it every day; focus; playing games with hierarchy; the powerless pleasures of pyjama-time; aah…exhalation; our fantasies of invisible work/lavatories/side stands; how to get out of Siberia; deep vs. shallow relating; In Bed With Brian; schmoozing vs. networking; transactional loopholes that (might) lead to connection; barking teachers; the guest’s agenda


Brian’s website: http://www.blobelwarming.com
Buy “Power Lunching”

RMSYL 51: The Plain Sense of Things by Wallace Stevens (read by Josh Cohen)

“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.


Read ‘The Plain Sense of Things’ online.
Buy The Private Life: Why We Remain In The Dark.
Read the tiny Lydia Davis story ‘What She Knew” mentioned in our discussion.

Short Story Masterclass Series

I’ve been on a bit of a RMSYL hiatus in the last few months, but new episodes to come soon.

Until then, if you’re missing listening to people reading you things they like -even if in this case the things happen to be their own writing- here are some interviews I did for Thresholds talking to a variety of interesting writers about their short story output .

Interview with Sarah Hall for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with Margaret Drabble for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with Joseph O’Connell for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with with Michèle Roberts for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with David Vann for Thresholds/Small Wonder
Interview with Deborah Levy for Thresholds/Small Wonder

RMSYL 50: Tooth by Michael Burkard (read by Ryan Van Winkle)

“”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 critically praised first collection, Tomorrow, We Will Live Here, was published by Salt in 2010 and won the prestigious Crashaw Prize. 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

Ryan: http://ryanvanwinkle.com/
Buy Michael Burkard’s Unsleeping (includes Tooth)
Buy Ryan’s Tomorrow, We Will Live Here
Read Ryan’s History Of A Mouth (online)
SPL podcast: http://scottishpoetrylibrary.podomatic.com/

RMSYL 49: The Wonderful Focus of You by Joanne Kyger (read by Marcus Slease)

“The poetry I’m interested in most of the time is open-ended: inviting the reader to participate in the process of questioning, meaning, and everything really.”  Marcus Slease


Marcus Slease was born in Portadown, N. Ireland. He has lived all over the world as a teacher of English as a foreign language. Recent fiction and poetry have appeared in magazines such as: Metazen, Housefire, So and So Magazine, Spork, InDigest, Gesture, NAP, Forklift Ohio, and Little White Lies. His most recent book, Mu (dream) So (Window) was published this year by Poor Claudia. He lives in London and blogs at The House Of Zabka.

DISCUSSED: Writing Personally To Get Out Of The Straitjacket Of Self; Big Things, Little Things, Trivial Things; Nice; Reclaiming the Vernacular; What Holds A Year/Your Life Together; Echo Mess Internet; The Poem As A Mind Graph; Living In The Moment (Argh!); Daybook Poetry

Marcus’s website: marcusslease.tumblr.com
Follow Marcus on Twitter: https://twitter.com/postpran
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/postpran
Read The Wonderful Focus of You online: http://tinyurl.com/bqh93vm