Remember I told you I had a couple of new poetry projects in the pipeline? The first one is now live.
It’s a poetry podcast called A Mouthful of Air, that aims to reconnect poetry with its roots as an oral art – and reconnect poets with listeners.
Here’s the introduction from the website, AMouthfulofAir.fm:
Once upon a time, long before the invention of writing, poetry was part of everyone’s life.
People gathered around the fire in the evening to hear poems of heroism and adventure, humans and gods, love and loss. And those poems were how we made sense of our world.
They told us where the universe came from, who made it, how it sustained itself, and what our role was in the great drama.
Poems showed us how to live and how to love. How to give and how to grieve.
They taught us about life and death, and even the afterlife.
And you know something?
Poets are still doing this today.
Poets and audiences may have drifted apart, but poetry is still doing what it always did: helping us to make sense of our world. Showing us how to live and love, give and grieve. And even to face death.
A Mouthful of Air is a podcast that offers you the original experience of poetry – of a voice in your ear, in a quiet time of the day, speaking words that conjure images in your mind and feelings in your heart.
If you like the sound of that, then I expand on this theme in Episode 1 of the podcast, and explain how the show works and how to get the most out of it.
There are two types of episode on A Mouthful of Air, each of which focuses on a single poem in close-up:
This is where I read a poem and talk about how it works, with a strong emphasis on craft and form, as well as subject and theme. Most of the time I’m reading classic poems, but I’ll occasionally read one of my own poems.
So far I’ve done the poem that gave the podcast its name, ‘He Thinks of Those Who Have Spoken Evil of His Beloved’ by Yeats, as well as Sonnet 60 by Shakespeare and ‘The Jumblies’ by Edward Lear.
Guest poet episodes
Here I invite a contemporary poet to read one of their poems, and ask them about its inspiration and how the finished poem evolved.
The first guest is my long-term mentor, Mimi Khalvati, reading a poem about eggs and saying some very interesting things about the sonnet form.
She’s followed by Cath Drake, with her poem ‘How I Hold the World in this Climate Emergency’, who talks about the challenges of writing about big and potentially overwhelming themes.
I have plenty more inspiring and award-winning poets lined up to appear on the show, and with the whole of English literature to choose from for the classic poems, I can guarantee a very high standard of poetry. I’m already getting some great feedback from listeners about the readings and presentation, so I hope you’ll find something to enjoy in the show.
Where to find A Mouthful of Air
Poetry is a multimedia art form – the same poem can live in a listener’s ear as well as a reader’s eye.
So A Mouthful of Air is a multimedia podcast. Here’s where you can get it:
And, if you want me to email you the audio and full transcript (including poem texts) of every episode of A Mouthful of Air, you can sign up here: AMouthfulofAir.fm/subscribe
Please note: I will not be sending every episode of A Mouthful of Air out via my poetry blog, so if you want to receive it via email, you’ll need to subscribe to the dedicated email list for the podcast.
You might find the text version particularly useful, because one of the things I’m encouraging you to do on the show is to read the poems out loud to yourself – so you’ll always get the poem text in that email.
Why would you want to read the poems out loud? Well, you’ll have to listen to episode 1 to find out. 🙂
Special thanks to…
I’m very grateful to Arts Council England for a National Lottery Project Grant, to help with the production costs of the show. I was determined to have the best possible production standards for the show, and the grant has been very helpful in achieving this.
So as well as the poetry reading and discussion, you will hear atmospheric music and soundscapes, created for A Mouthful of Air by the composer Javier Weyler. And Javier’s agency Breaking Waves are producing every episode of the show, ensuring the best possible sound quality.
And my long-term designer, Irene Hoffman, has responded brilliantly to my brief to create a logo suggestive of ‘air’.
Special thanks to my co-producer, Mami McGuinness, an experienced editor who has been providing invaluable help behind the scenes (and who also happens to be my wife).
I’ve been planning A Mouthful of Air for years and working flat out for months to make it happen. I hope you enjoy it and would love to hear what you make of it.