Poems for Company – June 24th, 2024

“Meta-Verse”: The four poems on this episode make a virtue out of being self-conscious.  Each poem comments on the very poem we’re reading.  The poem pulls back the curtain and reveals the composing process.  Or at least that’s what the poem pretends to do.  Billy Collins, “The Suggestion Box,” from Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems (Random…

Poems for Company – February 26th, 2024

“Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass”: Though Frederick Douglass grew up not knowing his exact birthdate and even uncertain just how old he was, historians presume he was born in February 1818.  Douglass wrote, “I do not remember to have ever met a slave who could tell of his birthday.”  His master “deemed all such inquiries…

Poems for Company – January 22nd, 2024

“Imagining Our Parents Before We Were Born”: What do you know about the life of either of your parents before you were born?  The three contemporary poems featured on this episode suggest the poets knew just a few facts, perhaps derived from family lore.  Then they speculated or fabricated the rest to achieve some coherent…

Poems for Company – December 25th, 2023

“Some Horses, Some Oxen”: Four poems are featured on this show, three about horses and one about oxen.  All of the horse poems tell us as much about the speaker as they do about the horses, and the final poem details a most curious Christmas folk belief.  What are all these animals thinking?  The poems…

Poems for Company – November 27th, 2023

“Responding to Loss”: All three poems in this episode reflect on the loss of a person, when loss is final.  Perhaps one or more of these poems speak to feelings you have experienced but could not define quite like these poets do.  Are poems and songs useful for facing one’s own demise or for dealing…

Poems for Company – October 23rd, 2023

“Civilians in the First World War”: All four poems on today’s episode focus on civilians in the First World War, particularly women: how were they affected?  Jessie Pope, “War Girls.”  Siegfried Sassoon, “Glory of Women.”  May Wedderburn Cannan, “Rouen.”  E. E. Cummings, “my sweet old etcetera.”  There are many fine anthologies that present poetry from…

Poems for Company – September 25th, 2023

“Advice”: Have you ever urged anyone to procreate?  If so, what motivated you to do that?  Today’s episode presents poems that offer direct advice, not only about when to have children and why, but also about what to eat, how to interact with others, and additional concerns.  Shakespeare, Sonnet # 3.  Catherine Tufariello, “Useful Advice,” from Keeping My…

Poems for Company – August 28th, 2023

Ancient Chinese Poetry: This show features the work of two poets.  Do they express concerns many of us think about in the 21st century?  Do they suggest how to adjust certain of our attitudes?  All the poems are from A Hundred and Seventy Chinese Poems, translated by Arthur Waley (Knopf, 1919).  (Many poems by these same authors…

Poems for Company – July 24th, 2023

“Inanimate Objects”: Have you inherited an inanimate object that carries emotional weight?  Have you bestowed a name on your bicycle or your car?  The poems featured in this episode respond in a variety of ways to inanimate objects.  Leigh Stein, “What Happens If You Click It,” from What To Miss When (NY: Soft Skull Press, 2021).  Richard…

Poems for Company – June 26th, 2023

“Lust or Love”: In your own life, have you always been able to distinguish which powerful emotional response to another person grips you?  In the four poems featured on this episode, can you determine whether it’s lust or love that directs the poem’s speaker?  Ellen Bass, “Gate C22,” from The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press, 2007).  Frank…

Poems for Company – May 22nd, 2023

“Posing Questions”: “Who hangs a birdhouse from a sapling?”  How would you answer that question?  One poem featured on today’s episode places that question in a startling context.  Questions shape all of the poems on today’s episode.  Some are addressed; others are left for us to sort out.  Today’s episode features these poems: Christina Rossetti,…

Poems for Company – April 24th, 2023

“Poems About Writing”: When you were a student, did you find joy in the writing tasks required of you?  Did self-disclosure make you uncomfortable, or did you welcome the opportunity to express your individuality?  Poems in this episode may take you back to the classroom, with reflections from some students and instructors.  Today’s show features these poems:…

Poems for Company – March 27th, 2023

“Unrequited Love,” Part One: Poets respond in a variety of ways when their strong desires for another are not returned: from anger to bewilderment to resignation.  Over time, a number of episodes of Poems for Company will focus on this theme.  Today’s show features these poems: Sappho, Poem # 94, translator Michael R. Burch (thehypertexts.com/Sappho Longer Poems in Translations by Michael R. Burch.htm), read with…

Poems for Company, February 27 2023

“Unlived Lives”: What prompted you to make personal life-altering choices?  Do you believe a sky-god or some other cosmic force oversees your personal choices?  Has your life unfolded due to random events?  The three contemporary poems in this episode reflect on our personal choices that at times lead us to fantasize about how it all could…

Poems For Company, January 23 2023

“Dogs in Homer, Homer’s Dog, Other Dogs.”  What truths about dogs did Homer know nearly 3000 years ago?  If Homer lived with a dog, what did this dog think of the epic poet?  The poems in this episode address these and other canine-related questions in intriguing ways.  Homer, snippets from The Iliad, Books 22 and 23; a passage…

Poems For Company, December 26 2022

What do you think of the remarks by the old people you know?  Do they offer wisdom?  Do they complain?  Are they forward-looking?  Are they funny?  The seven poems featured on this episode offer a variety of responses.  William Matthews, “Grandmother Talking,” from Search Party: Collected Poems, ed. by Sebastian Matthews and Stanley Plumly, Houghton Mifflin…

Poems For Company, November 28 2022

How do we respond to the birds in our community?  What do they tell us about ourselves?    This show features eight poems: Emily Dickinson, “A Bird Came Down the Walk”; Isaac Rosenberg, “Returning, We Hear the Larks”; Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, from the opening of 3.5; W. B. Yeats, “The Wild Swans at Coole”; Greg Delanty, “On…

Poems For Company, October 24 2022

Do we imagine the dead as content in their zone, or do they express anxieties about how the world of the living functions in their absence?  Poems in this episode offer contrasting answers: Frederic Weatherly’s “Danny Boy”; A.E. Housman’s “Is My Team Ploughing?”; Thomas Hardy’s “Ah, Are You Digging on My Grave?”; John McCrae’s “In…