Basically, you need never be bored again. An immense archive of the great audio interviewer and social historian and researcher, Studs Turkel, speaking over 40 years with great thinkers, movers and shakers as well as people less famous – has been properly curated and placed online. This is America, talking to itself, about its hopes and fears in the 20th Century.
Listen to this wonderfully calm and thoughtful interview with the Pulitzer prize-winning poet, Mary Oliver (NPR recording 2013).
In under 7 minutes, she conveys the fresh tang of her words, by reading her poem “I happen to be standing”, written during her usual early morning attentiveness to nature and poetry writing time of choice. Then goes on to give some thoughts on the practice of writing poetry and her concern with the natural world:
I’ve watched with interest the dawn of curators describing their exhibitions to possible attenders. The small Dulwich Picture Gallery in London started really well with its director, Ian Dejardin. In a few minutes, he would tell us what to see, in a quietly enthusiastic way.
Now this – the gallery has TWO curators having a discussion and walking around a collection.
Hands up anyone who’d like to see this exhibition, now?
Me too! And yes, of course, it is a marketing tool, that couch has been placed there, just so – but they do look at least somewhat relaxed and it feels like a real conversation. They walk amicably around the exhibition, both get to speak and say what they’re keen about in it – and I find it overwhelmingly inviting.
Bravo, Dulwich Picture Gallery!
The National Portrait Gallery in London has come up with a twist on the usual museum audio tour: a choral choir!
Careful research prepared music which would have been contemporaneous with the portrait sitters and their time of influence on British society. The pieces are then sung by a specifically assembled Portrait Choir, together with voiceover by Simon Russell Beale.
“The idea is simple: this guide is a soundtrack to five centuries of magnificent portraiture – as well as feasting your eyes on the portraits, period-specific music will further transport you from 21st century Britain to the era each room evokes.” – from the introduction, Track One on the guide
Can sound and music help us seem to travel through time?
The Four Tops and “Reach Out” is a classic song. But those big jackets and too short trousers? To 21st century eyes, slightly odd and hilarious, although obviously sharp styling at the time, 50 years ago.
W H Auden reads his poem about the death of W B Yeats (anniversary today) – not only the passing of the man, but the way poetry lives on in the world after the death of its writer.
Interesting to bear in mind that we are listening to the spoken words of a poet who has been dead for over 40 years (died September 1973). Powerful to hear them read by the writer.
This poem is in fact one of 3 parts. In the 2nd, he memorably sums up W B Yeats as “Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry” and in the 3rd it winds up the set by a simple four line verse:
“In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.”
The full poem is found in Auden’s writings 1939-1947.