Edward Hopper, Nighthawks (1942)
Hello! I’m Shai-Ann, the new editorial assistant intern here at Ethos Books. Today, I’ve chosen to share with you one of my daily routines. Now I don’t know about you, but listening to music on my daily commute has become incredibly dull. I have a dozen Spotify playlists, but really I only ever flip between my driving playlist ‘when jesus lets you take the wheel’ and my chill ‘slow strings and acoustic things’ playlist, which make me want to go promptly back to sleep – hardly a suitable way to start the morning.
But, podcasts. I confess, I’ve always hated the idea of podcasts. Isn’t my constant internal monologue enough? I tune out of mindless chattering in group conversations; wouldn’t podcasts simply be a self-inflicted form of that? Yes, I was perhaps overthinking this. I used to pooh-pooh podcast devotees who would tell me ‘You just have to find the right podcast for you,’ which reminded me of the well-meaning but also slightly patronising reassurances we give to singles.
Until! I sheepishly admit, I did, in fact, find the right podcast for me. Titled ‘Poetry Unbound’, each episode selects one poem to be read and discussed by Irish poet Pádraig Ó Tuama, who interprets them, weaving his own experiences into the recording. Listening to an episode (or two) a day becomes a journey through which I find, as Pádraig puts it, ‘a kind and tender relationship with [myself]’. Too often I feel overly sensitive, too prone to rumination, but poetry and by extension, this podcast, reminds me that it is alright to feel, and to feel deeply.
I may not be a podcast convert, but I am certainly a believer in the power of poetry and of words to comfort, to heal and to rejuvenate.
(From January 16, 2021)