Category Archives: Audio


by Joni Mitchell

WoodstockI came upon a child of God

He was walking along the road

And I asked him where are you going

And this he told me

I’m going on down to Yasgur’s farm

I’m going to join in a rock ‘n’ roll band

I’m going to camp out on the land

I’m going to try an’ get my soul free

We are stardust

We are golden

And we’ve got to get ourselves

Back to the garden

Then can I walk beside you

I have come here to lose the smog

And I feel to be a cog in something turning

Well maybe it is just the time of year

Or maybe it’s the time of man

I don’t know who I am

But you know life is for learning

We are stardust

We are golden

And we’ve got to get ourselves

Back to the garden

By the time we got to Woodstock

We were half a million strong

And everywhere there was song and celebration

And I dreamed I saw the bombers

Riding shotgun in the sky

And they were turning into butterflies

Above our nation

We are stardust

Billion year old carbon

We are golden

Caught in the devil’s bargain

And we’ve got to get ourselves

back to the garden
Listen to Joni Mitchell sing “Woodstock”
Camille Paglia describes Joni Mitchell as “a major contemporary poet” and includes her poem “Woodstock” in her remarkable book Break, Blow, Burn, containing essays about what she regards as “forty three of the world’s best poems.”
A selection of Joni Mitchell’s lyrics will be included in our study of “The Poetry in Popular Music” on October 26. Please bring your own favourite examples and post them first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for submissions to-date.


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Seditious verses of the royal Master of Music

One of Britain’s most influential composers and a favourite of the royal court, Sir Arnold Bax had another life as a would-be Irish nationalist poet, writes Petroc Trelawny

Seditious verses of the royal Master of MusicSir Arnold Bax wanted to die in Glencolumcille, Co Donegal. “I fancy that my last vision in this life will be the still brooding, dove-grey mystery of the Atlantic at twilight,” he said. He was seduced by the remote settlement, the savagery of the sea in winter, the rugged cliffs that stretch away from the houses, the live music he heard in Paddy John McNelis’s pub.
Trad players were gathering outside another pub when I visited the Co Donegal village last month, recording a BBC radio documentary. Bax’s beloved beach was filled with sunburnt families, many of them day-trippers from Derry and Belfast whose journeys had been much simpler than his tortuous route via the Donegal Light Railway. The heat was breaking records, the sea absolutely flat, but it was not hard to imagine the potential fury of the waves, crashing hundreds of feet up the face of Glen Head. The natural beauty, and the sympathetic welcome Bax received from the villagers ensured that he returned year after year, later writing: “I came to know the people as I never knew any other community.”

Read the complete article
Read “A Dublin Ballad: 1916” by Dermot O’Byrne

Listen to “Tintagel”, by Arnold Bax (1883-1953)

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Bill Evans: “Alone”

By Jan Zwicky

Bill Evans AloneSound that makes night fall around it

Like the glow from a reading lamp.
Rain on the roof, straight down.

The name of your name

Spoken without another’s.
Rubato is a hand

You thought indifferent

Laid, briefest of moments,

On your sleeve.
It walks away, then,

That sound, without looking back.

Lights up a Lucky. Says
We hadn’t the ghost of a chance, says never

Let me go.
Listen to the complete Bill Evans album, “Alone”
Please note that we have tentatively scheduled musically inspired “Ekphrastic” poetry for June 28, 2018.
On October 26th, 2017 from 5:00 PM  – 6:30 PM, at the Coach House, Green College, UBC, 6201 Cecil Green Park Road, Vancouver, Jan Zwicky and her husband, Canadian poet Robert Bringhurst, will present THE SHAPE OF THE WORLD: POETRY AND ECOLOGY.  See the EVENTS PAGE for details.

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Imtiaz Dharker reads “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop

Imtiaz Dharker reads One Art by Elizabeth BishopListen to the beautiful voice of the Pakistan-born Scottish poet Imtiaz Dharker read Elizabeth Bishop, Louise MacNeice and Arun Kolatkar.
For more information on Imtiaz Dharker, visit her website:
A reminder that we will be reading and discussing Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry on September 28. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for the list of featured poems.
Please note that for the September 28th session only, we will be meeting in the mezzanine meeting room.

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What Is It You Feel I Asked Kurt

Diane Seuss

What Is It You Feel I Asked KurtWhat is it you feel I asked Kurt when you listen to

Ravel’s String Quartet in F-major, his face was so lit up

and I wondered, “the music is unlike the world I live

or think in, it’s from somewhere else, unfamiliar and unknown,

not because it is relevant to the familiar and comfortable,

but because it brings me to that place that I didn’t/couldn’t

imagine existed. And sometimes that unfamiliar place is closer

to my world than I realize, and sometimes it’s endlessly distant,”

that’s what he wrote in an email when I asked him

to remind me what he’d said earlier, off the cuff, “I don’t

recall exactly what I said,” he began, a sentence written

in iambic pentameter, and then the rest, later he spoke of two

of his brothers who died as children, leukemia and fire,

his face, soft, I’m listening to Ravel now, its irrelevancy.
Listen to Ravel’s String Quartet in F-major played by the Alban Berg Quartet.

Maurice Ravel completed his String quartet in F major in early April 1903 at the age of 28. Dedicated to his friend and teacher Gabriel Fauré, the work was introduced in Paris by the Heymann Quartet on March 5, 1904. The quartet follows a strict four movement classical structure: Moderato très doux begins as a sonata form allegro, the following Assez vif-Très rythmé functions as the quartet’s scherzo, while Très lent acts as a contrasting foil. The last movement, Vif et agité, reintroduces themes from the earlier passages and ends with a striking finale.

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By Sarah Creech

9 CLASSIC COUNTRY SONGSAs Johnny Cash once said, “Of love and hate and death and dying, mama, apple pie, and the whole thing. It covers a lot of territory, country music does.” Like a great short story, a country song evokes complex lives in a condensed amount of space. Songwriters create tension between sorrowful lyrics and sweet melodies, and no other genre employs humor quite as well. So much of the fiction writer’s craft is present in this form, yet out of all the musical genres, country music songwriting attracts the least amount of scholarship.
Country music struggles to divorce itself from the hillbilly image conjured in the early 20th century when the Carter Family first began recording. Stereotypes about the genre have created a barrier around it as a topic worthy of serious inquiry. While I was researching my second novel The Whole Way Home, I gained a new appreciation for this music too often associated with ignorance and discovered many similarities between its classic songs and my favorite works of literature.

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Listen to Hank Williams sing “I’M SO LONESOME I COULD CRY” (1949)

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Looking at Larkin

An LRB Podcast with Seamus Perry and Mark Ford

Looking at Larkin

Seamus Perry and Mark Ford discuss the work of Philip Larkin, drawing on articles from the archive of the London Review of Books, by Alan Bennett, Barbara Everett, John Bayley and others.

Listen to the Podcast

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Two sonnets for Shakespeare 400

By Wendy Cope

Two sonnets for Shakespeare 400My Father’s Shakespeare

My father must have bought it second-hand,
Inscribed “To RS Elwyn” – who was he?
Published 1890, leather-bound,
In 1961 passed on to me.
November 6th. How old was I? Sixteen.
Doing A level in English Lit.,
In love with Keats and getting very keen
William Shakespeare. I was thrilled with it,
This gift, glad then, as now, to think
I had been chosen as the keeper of
My father’s Shakespeare, where, in dark blue ink,
He wrote, “To Wendy Mary Cope. With love.”
Love on a page, surviving death and time.
He didn’t even have to make it rhyme.

On Sonnet 18

So long as men can breathe and eyes can see” –
You don’t assume we’ll be around for ever.
You couldn’t know that “this gives life to thee”
Only until the sun goes supernova.
That knowledge doesn’t prove your words untrue.
Neither time nor the advance of science
Has taken anything away from you,
Or faced down your magnificent defiance.
That couplet. Were you smiling as you wrote it?
Did you utter a triumphant “Yes”?
Walking round the garden, did you quote it,
Sotto voce, savouring your success?
And did you always know, or sometimes doubt
That passing centuries would bear you out?
Specially commissioned by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Listen to The Poetry Archive’s 400 Collection containing recordings of twenty sonnets read by ten major poets.  Each poet has chosen a favourite sonnet by Shakespeare and, inspired by that sonnet, has written a new sonnet of his or her own.
A reminder that on April 27 we will be reading and discussing poetry and other literature about, or inspired by, Shakespeare, his works and characters. Please bring your own selection of this genre for discussion and, if you wish, post it first on the blog via the CONTACT US page, or email it to me directly. See the SCHEDULE PAGE for selections posted to-date.

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Anne Sexton’s lost tapes

By Kelsey Osgood

Anne_SextonIn early March 1966, poet and public-television presidium Richard O. Moore traveled to the buttoned-up Boston suburb of Weston, Massachusetts, to interview the poet Anne Sexton at the home she shared with her husband, Kayo, and young daughters Linda and Joy. The interview was to be a cinéma vérité–type glimpse into the life of the increasingly famous poète maudite, who just a year later would be awarded the Pulitzer for her second collection, Live or Die. Sexton’s star had been on the rise since the 1960 publication of her first book, To Bedlam and Partway Back, which focused on her psychiatric hospitalization and subsequent return to a degree of normalcy (hence “partway”). Throughout the interview, later aired on San Francisco television station KQED, Sexton presents her home life to the viewer: she reads her work, comforts her daughter, cajoles her camera-shy husband to join her on film, and contemplates death. At one point, she puts on a Chopin record, Ballade No. 1 in G Minor, Opus 23. Sexton melts at the opening notes; her demeanor, hitherto coquettish, becomes euphoric. She closes her eyes, arches her neck, and bites her lip as if she’s seducing someone or being seduced. The camera travels down her long, pale arm, which swings just slightly to the beat.
“I’ll tell you what poem I wrote to this,” she says to Moore, smirking. “‘Your Face on the Dog’s Neck.’ Makes no sense, does it? A love poem.” As the music crescendos, the frenetic camera homes in on Sexton’s eyes, which she closes as she exclaims, “Oh, it’s beautiful!” Her joy is overwhelming and carnal and more than a little disturbing. “It’s better than a poem!” she says. “Music beats us.”

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We will be reading and discussing the poetry of Anne Sexton on July 27.

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Beethoven’s A-minor String Quartet (Op. 132): The magical music that inspired T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets

Excerpted from Chamber Music: A Listener’s Guide by James M. Keller

Beethoven_s A-minor String QuartetThe A-minor String Quartet (Op. 132) is the second of the triptych Beethoven wrote for Count Nikolas Galitzin. It occupied the composer from about February through July 1825, and its content is very much wrapped up with the vicissitudes of his life during those months. By that time he had reached a sorry state, increasingly isolated through his deafness. In 1825 he was actually arrested as a vagrant – a mistake, but an understandable one in light of what was reported to be his increasingly slovenly appearance.
Read the complete excerpt: Beethoven-A-minor-string-quartet
Listen to Quatuor Ebène play Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Quartet number 15 in A-minor Op. 132
Another reminder that we’ll be reading and discussing more of  T. S. Eliot’s Four Quartets in our March session. On March 23 we will focus on “The Dry Salvages” and “Little Gidding.” Please bring your own favourite excerpts, interpretations and comments for discussion about these challenging poems.

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