Read me Poetry, Please

Things I have remembered in the last couple of weeks, since Seamus Heaney died: I love poetry.
Also: I don’t tend to read poetry – I tend to prefer it being read to me. Poetry is meant to sound.

When I was little I had a few tapes of poetry collections (nation’s favourite poems and poetry please and so on), which I used to listen to and listen to and listen to – and I can still recite chunks and recall bits, even when I have no idea of the name of the poem or poet.

[For example, by googling ‘welsh poem creatures coming out of sea’, I have learned that the weird poem that baffled me (and that I sort-of always thought was Dylan Thomas) is actually Robert Graves’ Welsh Incident]

There’s some stuff I’d rather avoid. Twenty-Three 13-year old schoolgirls reciting La Belle Dame sans merci one after the other does rather put one off it… But they’re fairly few, and even the stuff that baffled small-me wows big-me (see also: Henry Reed’s Naming of Parts), and some stuff never fades and just gets richer (Sea Fever, Prospero’s final speech in the The Tempes t).

It’s made me think, I’d like people to read me poetry more often. So, aside from finding out when Simon Armitage is next reading poetry anywhere near me, and hunting down podcasts, I thought that there’s something I would like to try. I would like similarly interested people to record themselves reading their favourite poems and put them up online for me and other interested parties to listen to.

I was thinking, I’m not quite sure how to do this. Not technically, that bit is easy (hello, garageband or audacity). But to make it a thing. I could say – let’s everyone who wants to do it take turns to take a day and do it – but that seems complicated.

So, how about this: let’s just all (who are interested) do it, in one big poemy-glomph, and post our recordings up wherever you want (or let me know and I’ll see if I can put them up here) and hashtag it #readmepoetry on twitter. And, since I’m in Normandy this weekend, let’s do it next weekend (21–22 September). That gives time to record things (OK, maybe not the whole of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, but other things) and get them up online. And then we can stockpile lovely poetry to listen to. In the meantime, here is a reading of an old favourite of mine: John Betjeman’s A Shropshire Lad

Are you in?

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