Supposing you were sitting in a New York diner, and you couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between two men in the booth behind you.
As you tuned into the American and Northern Irish accents, you realised you were eavesdropping on John Ashbery and Paul Muldoon shooting the breeze about poetry. Ashbery read a poem by Charles Simic, then one of his own, and Muldoon quizzed him about his writing practice and what the poems meant to him.
You’d be all ears, right?
Well, you can eavesdrop on that conversation right here, on the New Yorker Poetry podcast. Not only that, there’s a whole archive of similar conversations, with Muldoon’s interviewees including Robert Pinsky, Monica Youn, Billy Collins, Nick Laird and Philip Levine. Each poet has to pick a poem by another poet as well as one of their own, and their comments on these (plus Muldoon chipping in his own observations) are often fascinating and revealing.
We’re lucky to be living at a time when technology makes this kind of media accessible to us (for free!). Larkin once remarked that if the history of recording technology had been a little different, we’d be able to listen to Shakespeare reading his own sonnets. Just imagine if podcasting had been around in the 16th century…
If I could pick any poet from history to host a podcast, I’d probably go for Coleridge. He’d waffle and go off topic, and the episodes would be about three hours long, but by all accounts his table talk and poetic recitals were mesmerising.
Which poet would you pick to host your ideal podcast?