Woodrat Podcast 5: Radames Ortiz with Jonathan Jindra, Amplified Bards

A conversation with Houston-based poet Radames Ortiz and his audio collaborator, the composer Trills (Jonathan Jindra).

Topics include: How electronic music is composed; the arts scene in Houston; composing and improvising music to accompany poems; making the transition from ambient music to electronica that demands active listening; how Radames started writing poetry and why he chose not to get an MFA; turning a poetry reading into a multimedia experience and getting the audience involved; online reading, e-book readers and the supposed death of the text; the obligation of poets and writers to master multimedia tools; making and watching videopoetry.

Links:

Theme music: “Le grand sequoia,” by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence)

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12 Comments


  1. This podcast is becoming a weekly addiction for me.

    I loved the selections you played. It reminded me of a more electronic version of some of what Lee Ranaldo does on his solo records. Thanks for introducing me to these guys.

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    1. Hey, that’s good to hear — that you liked the music, I mean. The addiction is a bit worrisome.

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      1. I’m sure I could quit anytime. No, really. In all seriousness, though, it’s been a very compelling show especially in the variety of topics you address.

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        1. Glad to hear it! I hope to keep the variety going, while still focusing on poetry or literature in the majority of episodes. I don’t think it will ever be the sort of show to discuss strategies for linebreaks or how to write the perfect sestina, because I’m hoping to interest a broader audience than just poets.

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  2. Hi Dave, I listened last night and was fascinated not only by the music – which I liked (and I do know quite a lot about electronic music, having worked with the developers of the Synclavier back in the early days of synthesizers) — but by what Radames Ortiz had to say about the future of poetry. His desire to infuse poetry readings and poetry appreciation with energy and creativity really made me sit up and think hard about my own enthusiasms and resistances, as well as what I want for this medium over the long haul. Thanks for interviewing these guys.

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    1. Beth, I’m glad you found this thought-provoking. I see you have a new piece up on the Phoenicia blog today about the future of micro-publishing, and a good conversation already started there in the comments.

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  3. You kind of apologize early on in this episode for your naive questions, but I’m glad you’re branching out into subjects about which you didn’t know as much before you started Woodrat. I can’t imagine that even NPR’s Robert Siegel, my favorite radio interviewer, knows all he could know about a guest’s subject matter before interviewing her.

    I’m more ignorant about electronic music than you, so I appreciated the questions for that reason, too. (By the way, I really enjoyed the conversation.)

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    1. Thanks, Peter. I guess an interviewer has to try and imagine what an average member of the audience would want to know and ask that question. Of course, that gets pretty subjective — you have to make a lot of guesses about what the audience actually knows and is interested in. You’re right about Siegel being a master. I’ve also been studying Stephen Colbert for tips.

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  4. I loved the tracks, especially “Postcard from June” – so haunting yet beautiful and calming. I liked what Trills said about making it an active listening experience – it definitely draws the listener in. Can’t wait for the CD!

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    1. Yes, it should be a really interesting listening (and watching) experience! Thanks to you and Beth for confirming my suspicions that Trills’ music is indeed quite good.

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  5. Really interesting Dave! I loved the music and the collaboration and the discovery of this work. These podcasts would be great on public radio on Sunday evenings…Studio 360 meets Poetry out loud, featuring artists and writers working in less glamorous towns than the ones you mention.. I’m serious…they’re excellent.

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    1. Thank you very much for that generous evaluation. It means a lot coming from you, as a long-time radio devotee (and someone never afraid to let me know when I am full of it), and I will work all the harder on these knowing that you’re listening.

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