Recording Archives: ‘A Way with Words’

By | 1 June 2013

Christine Paice with Carol Jenkins
Episode 79: ‘The Ministry for Going In’ | (5:28)
[audio:|titles=Episode 79: ‘The Ministry for Going In’ – Christine Paice and Carol Jenkins]
I love this poem so much I used it again in Episode 106, the very last. It is a profound study of grief, a poem that draws you back to it, and quite mad in the sanest possible way. It won the Joseph Ulrick Award for Poetry in 2009.

It is an odd discipline producing a weekly radio program, even a very short one, for the love of it. It didn’t ever occur to me the production was a chore – it was more a weekly discipline, a challenge, a little piece of theatrics, an act of scrounging, a chance to share, a little way to inveigle poetry and poets’ voices into peoples’ cars and kitchens.

Kerry Leves with Carol Jenkins
Episode 84: ‘The Dude Has Left the Mall’ | (4:19)
[audio:|titles=Episode 84: ‘The Dude Has Left the Mall’ – Kerry Leves and Carol Jenkins]
Kerry Leves bounced up to me at the 2009 Puncher & Wattmann Christmas party and said I should record him. He was right. At that time, I thought ‘yeah, yeah … later’. This was the year when I was focusing on the 1934 cohort. If you knew Kerry Leves, please be warned that hearing his voice and this poem packs the kind of emotional punch that might sidetrack your day.

Radio is insidious and I like that about it. There is a general sneakiness, a haminess even, that makes it accessible and pervasive. Radio allows its listeners get on with necessary but mindless tasks, while taking you into another dimension – though not to the same extent as reading which leaves ones body idle while the brain that slips off entirely.

As a literary media, radio is important. Turning to the bookshelves beside where I write this now, I scan for a poet’s biography (I don’t have many) and find Seamus Heaney’s Stepping Stones, a series of interviews compiled by Dennis O’Driscoll, and smartly find Radio (RTE – Radio Telefis Eirreann) in the index. I scrabble to page 164 and find Heaney had been invited to host a radio program, Imprint, reviewing books. He describes his ‘enlivening’ at reading and reviewing the first of Thomas Kinsella’s ‘Poundian’ Notes from the Land of the Dead. Thinking of Heaney reminds me of Ted Hughes’ BBC program, Poetry in the Making, later turned into a Faber book by the same name – my own well-weathered copy is, sadly, not to be found on any nearby bookshelf – that also waves the flag (albeit the Union Jack mostly) for poetry on the airwaves.

John Watson with Carol Jenkins
Episode 99: ‘The Man of Feeling at Sizzler’ | (6:28)
[audio:|titles=Episode 99: ‘The Man of Feeling at Sizzler’ – John Watson and Carol Jenkins]
Ever witty, this John Watson poem is an affectionate portrait of Bill Maidment, late of the University of Sydney. The poem is from John Watson’s First Reader, (Five Island Press, now from Puncher & Wattmann, 2012).

By the time A Way with Words came to a close after 106 episodes, I had featured about 50 poets and over 150 poems. Strangely, recording and producing the program was a buzz, a small thrill, and gave me a sense of achievement to get another out into the world. I am grateful to see these episodes in Cordite Poetry Review.

Julie Chevalier with Carol Jenkins
Episode 101: ‘Elemental Warfare’ | (4:41)
[audio:|titles=Episode 100: ‘Elemental Warfare’ – Julie Chevalier and Carol Jenkins]
This poem is from Chevalier’s Darger: his girls (Puncher & Wattmann, 2012) collection, a biographical sequence. While my bet in this episode that it would win the Newcastle Poetry Prize did not quite come to fruition – the poem was shortlisted. The sequence did go on to win the Alec Bolton prize.

My thanks to the poets, and Janet Swain for the music. Copyright for the programs remain with Carol Jenkins and the individual poets.

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