Category Archives: poetry

London Nerd Tourism

Last night I was thinking about Douglas Adams’ bathtub and I realized I should post about the few touristy things I had time to do while I was in London.

-I visited the National Portrait Gallery and said hello to the Romantic poets, who first induced me to really enjoy studying English. NB: air-conditioned!

-I went on a bat walk. This was exciting for a number of reasons, not least of which was meeting my fellow Batwalkers (distant cousins of the Skywalkers). Also, they hand out bat detectors and keep some sample bats on hand for demonstration purposes. Finally, you get to walk through British parks at night, which is apparently a huge subversive thrill. But the highlight is the audio from the bat detectors, which lend a whole new dimension to the experience.

-I had lunch with my friend Scott at Google’s London offices. The major highlight for me was to brush a hand over Douglas Adams’ bathtub, which now resides among a forest of deck chairs. Baths are, needless to say, very important in the Hitchhiker’s Guide mythos. This one looked sleek and self-satisfied, as if it quietly devoured an AdSense salesperson once every week or two.

-I saw Keats House, the cottage where he fell in love with Fanny Brawne, moved from persistently to gravely ill, and wrote some fine poetry. They’ve even got the (replacement) tree under which he composed Ode to a Nightingale, a poem that presages the entirety of Yeats in eighty lines.

All in all, a great trip!

Actually listening to poetry

How often do we really listen to poetry anymore? Perhaps it is true that contemporary poetry is meant to be read more than to be heard, but I find that once I hear a poet reading his or her own work I can never read it the same way again. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Paul.

The PENNsound poetry site collects audio files from all sorts of interesting people. We’re using it this week in a class to listen to William Carlos Williams reading a few excerpts from Paterson.