Beckett Reading from His Works

Playwright, poet, and novelist Samuel Beckett shied away from recording devices like a rabbit hides from red-tailed hawks, but the following reading—one of very few in existence—captures him narrating a poem and a portion of one of his works: the novel Watt. Lawrence Harvey, a professor of comparative literature, met with Beckett in Paris several times and made this recording during one of his visits in 1965. Beckett won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1969 after being judged “unsuitable for the award” in 1968 by some of the committee members.

"Complainers," a Spoken-Word Poem by Rudy Francisco

Performed on The Tonight Show on 02MAR18, this spoken-word poem by Rudy Francisco fits the classic definition of this genre. As described by the Poetry Foundation, spoken word often include a blend of elements: 

Spoken word is a broad designation for poetry intended for performance. Though some spoken word poetry may also be published on the page, the genre has its roots in oral traditions and performance. Spoken word can encompass or contain elements of rap, hip-hop, storytelling, theater, and jazz, rock, blues, and folk music. Characterized by rhyme, repetition, improvisation, and word play, spoken word poems frequently refer to issues of social justice, politics, race, and community. Related to slam poetry, spoken word may draw on music, sound, dance, or other kinds of performance to connect with audiences.

Like many of the poems from the Beat Generation, the performance adds an extra dimension of meaning and reading them aloud brings energy and passion to the words. Have a listen. . . 

Dickens and the Art of Serialization

During an impressive period of literary fame in the Victorian era, Charles Dickens not only produced a number of novels that have survived the test of time, but he also created a wide body of work in short form pieces, including numerous novellas and short stories. Dealing with the social issues of the time with stark realism, often from the viewpoint of the oppressed, Dickens established a storytelling model that has influenced many of today's top authors.     

Every one of Dickens novels was originally released in serialized form, beginning with his first novel, The Pickwick Papers, through his final uncompleted work, The Mystery of Edward Drood

As described by Professor Joel J. Brattin, writing for Project Boz:

Publishing his novels in serial form expanded Dickens’s readership, as more people could afford to buy fiction on the installment plan; publishers, too, liked the idea, as it allowed them to increase sales and to offer advertisements in the serial parts.  And Dickens enjoyed the intimacy with his audience that serialization provided.

This idea could adapt well to audio narration, providing installments of a longer work over a period of weeks or months, building interest and momentum in much the same way as episodic shows on Netflix or Starz keep the audience coming back to see what happens next to their favorite characters.

The following animation, scripted by Educator Iseult Gillespie, offers insights into Dickens' methods and unique storytelling approach.  

The animation was produced by the TED-ed, a coalition of artists and educators who are building an educational community using Patreon as a platform and funding source.  

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

The classic poem "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" was penned by Robert Frost while he was living in a farmhouse in Shaftsbury, Vermont. Today, his home, converted to a museum that is administered by Bennington College, can be toured to recapture a sense of Frost's life in  rural Vermont  

As the snow falls here in Vermont on Christmas Day, it's worth revisiting Frost's iconic work, a narrative version by the poet himself.