Woodrat Podcast, Episode 1

What I’ve been reading, what I’ve been writing, and what’s up with all the banjos

Topics include: Why a podcast and what I hope to accomplish with it; what a woodrat is; how to keep mandatory titles from messing up haikus; poems by Howie Good, John Haines, Sarah J. Sloat, Esther Jansma, and Vasko Popa; what I look for in poetry and why I write it; how I got started writing banjo poems; Jonah and the gourd vine; and New Year’s resolutions.


Thanks to T.M. Camp for the podcast inspiration.

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27 Replies to “Woodrat Podcast, Episode 1”

  1. I enjoyed listening to this while catching up on some photoshopping. Did you outline at all or did you just start talking? You sounded like you knew where you were going. Have you seen Tanner’s (I think) painting “The Banjo Lesson”? Some of your poems have put me in mind of it.

    1. Thanks for listening! I didn’t outline, no. But I had a stack of books, a rough idea, a sense of how long it wanted to be, and a willingness to edit it down to get to half an hour (almost!). I recorded it in four sections of a little less than 10 minutes each; that really helped me organize the final content and find where I needed to cut. Also, I didn’t record each section continuously; there was a lot of stopping, erasing, and trying again. I don’t know how long I spent at it, but I turned my furnace down before I started so the noise wouldn’t interrupt, and I was starting to get pretty cold by the time I was done. I added the ending a couple hours later after I noticed that a Twitter friend, Kris Lindback, had linked to my “Resolutions.”

      1. I’m glad you found a link. I guess I should have though to do that. It’s a favorite of mine. I have a print of it hanging in my classroom. The kids seem to like it more than I would expect them to.

        1. I see my dad with his granddaughter a lot, and instantly recognized their bond in the painting. The love is palpable and totally unsentimentalized. I hear Norman Rockwell did a rip-off of this painting, but I refuse to look for it — I get nauseated just thinking about how he must’ve cheapened and commodified that warmth.

  2. Tanner stuck out to me as a child as the first African American painter I knew by name. I adored “The Banjo Lesson.” In later life, he became religious, religiose, and I think the quality of his work dropped off somewhat.

    I like the podcast. It really was like spending 30 good minutes shooting the (high brow and interesting) shit with you. Very enjoyable. My only suggestion is that 30 minutes is pretty long. You could have made four podcasts out of this one, I think, and perhaps that would make it less daunting for listeners? I say this because I don’t think your podcast is the kind one can have going in the background while doing something else.

    Or maybe the length is good for those who are listening to it in the car, or on their ipods while out walking.

    p.s. I adore Sarah Sloat’s work, and was thrilled to be introduced to both Good and Popa. That first Good poem….woah!

    1. Thanks for the feedback. I was wondering what your take on Tanner would be. (“Religiose” is a fun word!)

      I think I’ll stick with 30 minutes, but if that proves too arduous to maintain, it’s nice to think I could go shorter (especially if I can’t find a guest some week). Another approach to make it more listenable would be to add music between each section, Creative Commons-licensed stuff from around the web. I don’t have an iPod or other portable music listening device myself, so am flying somewhat blind, just following the podcasting herd. There are a lot of hour-long or longer podcasts in talk-radio form, and then there are shorter, more polished productions. I’m shooting for something in between.

      One thing I didn’t mention in the podcast is that both Sloat and Good are poets I got to know first through qarrtsiluni, then through blogs (Sarah) and Facebook (Howie). The web definitely changes the relationship between author and reader. That’s a subject I’m sure I’ll talk about on future episodes.

  3. Hey there. I like it! Not quite as good as talking to you directly, but still fun. I don’t think it’s too long; I sat and sketched while I listened to you, and that worked well for me. The poems that stood out for me were Sloat’s and Jansma’s, though as you know I’m a fan of Howie Good as well, but the best was hearing you read your Banjo Apocalypse – the poem came alive for me through your voice, even though I’d enjoyed it very much “in print.” I think you’re right about poetry being, first and foremost, an aural/oral medium, and whatever we can do to go back to sitting around (virtual) fires and listening to each other recite is all to the good of the species, it seems to me!

    1. Hi Beth! Thanks for giving it a listen and providing some helpful feedback here. What did you sketch?

      “Poetry is, first and foremost, an aural/oral medium, and whatever we can do to go back to sitting around (virtual) fires and listening to each other recite is all to the good of the species” sounds like a quote I might use, with your permission, in promotional materials for this podcast.

        1. O.K., well, I did borrow from you in the subtitle I submitted to iTunes, which I’ve also added to a description field on the first page of the category archive (see the kind of nifty things we could do with qarrtsiluni if it were independently hosted?).

  4. I am probably expressing the attention deficit of my generation. Also, I’m less familiar with podcasts than I’d like to be (though I listen regularly to the wonderful ones at the NYRB, the New Yorker, and the Lannan Foundation. And to Qarrtsiluni’s, too).

    “Not quite as good as talking to you directly, but still fun,” Beth said.

    Well, yeah. Cause one can’t get a word in edgewise. This goes back to the question of length and (potentially) what makes it good.

    How often do we let a friend just go on for a half-hour without interrupting? I mean I never interrupt, but presumably not everyone has my fine manners, and so there might be something for them to learn here.

    1. Cause one can’t get a word in edgewise.

      And this differs from talking to me in person how, exactly?

      It sounds as if I’d better get some guests lined up for next week. Would you be up for it? Be fun to talk about porous borders, both the blog and the concept, and the intersection between writing and photography. And Twitter.

      1. Lucas, you mean you didn’t talk back while Dave was going on and on? You gotta get into it. It’s the lit version of yelling at the football game on the TV, any self-respecting woodrat knows that! (And Dave, I forgot to mention, I especially liked the image of you dragging your old poems into a big midden and prettying them up with haiku.)

  5. the interesection between writing and pornography

    I really need to become a more careful reader.

    Yeah, I’d be up for a chat. Send me an email.

  6. Listened to this just now while nursing Drew. I’m glad you’re doing this — it’s good to hear your voice, and this feels very much like the kind of conversation I wish we were having in person. :-)

    1. Thanks, Rachel. It’s fun hearing how people are listening to this. And I hope you can be a more literal participant in the conversation soon.

  7. I enjoyed this amble through your mind, your current readings, and found the story of the furnace in the comments gave an entirely other sense to the podcast. The poetry was fine (as in fine wine, aged cigars, surreal or otherwise), and since I love poetry readings found your relaxed ‘fireside chat’ style most enjoyable. As for length, I have taken to painting at night, and as I got very little accomplished on my canvas, seemed short. It’s all relative isn’t it.

    Podcasting -a sense of a literary banjo evening with Dave in Plumber’s Hollow (with some of that homemade beer surely) combined with a sense of a hosted radio show- works well, and I think it is one of the suits you should wear.

    A suit, not of houndstooth, or seersucker, but woven of lines of poetry, words of yarn, with inbuilt strumming as you move, yes, that I can see.

    1. Thanks for the warm and generous review. I’m glad to know that it works even in this bare-bones, monologue form, without the diversion of other voices and two-way conversations. I think in the future I will also increase the literal warmth and get a fire going in the woodstove, which I’ve been lazy about, especially if I can get a few guests to stop up and record right here in my “studio.”

  8. All this stuff happening while I’ve been away! So much to catch up with. O.K., I can see I’m going to have to take the laptop up to the studio today. I’m feeling out of things! Like Beth I shall play the podcast while working. Hey, she never did say what she was sketching!

  9. Hey, Dave, this was great! I listened after finishing work c 9.30 last night and enjoyed it a lot: relaxing, meandering, varied, engaging – more enjoyable than almost anything on my usual BBC Radio 3 or 4. I didn’t know any of the poets you read from, loved a couple, others noooooot… which thoroughly got my tired brain cells going. And you have a great voice for this kind of thing. More please!

    1. Better than the Beeb? Now I’m getting a swelled head for sure! Really glad you liked it though, even with some poems that weren’t to your personal taste — makes me think I must’ve hit upon just the right tone and style. There will be more, i promise. I’ve even invested $73 dollars in a fancy new microphone, so presuming it arrives in one piece, not only should the sound quality be better, but I’ll have more invested in this, and therefore inclined to continue to take it seriously (but never too seriously, I hope).

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