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Poetry Radio favorites 1992-2015

During its 23 years on GLT, Poetry Radio has encompassed a wide variety of interpretations, from local poets and readers to internationally-acclaimed authors. In this last month of broadcasts, I've chosen some of my favorite episodes, including former Senator Paul Simon and songwriter Claudia Schmidt, plus works by each of the four ISU poets who co-hosted the program. But there's so much more in the archives, as the nine poems below display. As producer, Poetry Radio has always been a labor of love and learning for me, and I hope it's expanded your horizons, too. As the show (and I) retire from GLT, I offer these additional favorites for your enjoyment.

Bruce Bergethon, GLT general manager

1) Marge Piercy: To Be of Use, read by Marge Piercy. Music by Barry Phillips (The Rights of Man from The World Turned Upside Down)  One of my most inspirational verses, read by the author in the back room at the original Babbitt's Bookstore in Normal in 1993.

2) William Butler Yeats: Those Dancing Days are Gone, read by Kevin McIlvoy. Music by Bert Jansch. Also from 1993, a reading by one of my closest literary associates from my days at New Mexico State University.


Two readings by major poets, musing on the form, from 1999:

3) Andrei Codrescu: Poetry, read by Andrei Codrescu. Music by Thelonious Monk (Smoke Gets In Your Eyes from The Art of the Ballad)


4) Gwendolyn Brooks: A Poem Doesn't ... , read by Gwendolyn Brooks. Music by Charles Mingus (Conversation from East Coasting)


5) Steve Fay: Girl With Catfish, read by Steve Fay. Music by Stefan Grossman (Birdnest Two-Step from Bottleneck Serenade) The former director of the Forest Park Nature Center in his first of several  readings, from 1998.


Three very different interpretations of perhaps the greatest versifier in the English language, from an ISU Shakespeare Festival actor (1995), an ISU professor (2013), and the Illinois Poet Laureate (1996):

6) Shakespeare: excerpt from Romeo and Juliet, read by Rob Cook. Music of Andrejs Jansons, performed by the ACC Heritage of America Band (Maritinu Dancis from Suite of Old Lettish Dances)


7) Shakespeare: Sonnet #130, "My Mistress' Eyes," read by Kim Pereira. Music by Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy (I Only Have Eyes for You, from I Only Have Eyes for You)


8) Shakespeare: Sonnet #116, "Let Me Not to the Marriage of True Minds," sung by John Knoepfle. Additional music by Paul Adams (Molly's Happy Lament, from Wonder Dancing on Global Bop)


And finally, the inimitable Delta Doctor, GLT blues host Frank Black, interpreting his favorite love poem in 2007:

9) Elizabeth Barrett Browning: "How Do I Love Thee?", Sonnet #43 from Sonnets From the Portugese, read by Frank Black. Music by Dreamchair Music (Panhandle Blues from Home)