It’s too good to be true. Garrison Keillor’s monologue from A Prairie Home Companion is now podcast. You have heard it before, haven’t you? Keillor knows everybody’s family, it seems, and he’ll make you see yours with new eyes. And he’ll make you laugh.

Catch the news here.

Hat tip to Lifehacker for letting me know.


“The meaning of poetry is to give courage. A poem is not a puzzle that you the dutiful reader are obliged to solve. It is meant to poke you, get you to buck up, pay attention, rise and shine, look alive, get a grip, get the picture, pull up your socks, wake up and die right. Poets have many motives for writing (to be published on expensive paper, to show up the others in your M.F.A. program, to flaunt your sensitive nature and thereby impress someone who might then go to bed with you, to win valuable prizes and fellowships and maybe a year in Rome or Provence, to have a plausable excuse for making a mess of your life), but what really matters about poetry and what distiguishes poets from, say, fashion models, or ad salesmen is the miracle of incantation in rendering the gravity and grace and beauty of the ordinary world and thereby lending courage to strangers.”

That’s from Garrison Keillor’s wonderful introduction to Good Poems for Hard Times. That introduction alone is worth the price of the book, which is filled with poems like the ones he chooses for his broadcast, The Writer’s Almanac.

Have I told you about this broadcast? It’s a five minute, midwest college, liberal arts education done up in a voice that can lower your blood pressure and clarify your values. If you don’t get it on the radio, you can catch it on the website, or find it on iTunes and take it with you. Listen in every day, in the morning if you can.

(Thanks to jefras for the image.)

A couple of years ago some friends invited me to a poetry night in our local health food restaurant. I’d never attended such a thing. The idea brought forth images of beatnik coffee houses, and I think it was something close. (I say “I think” because I am much too young to know for sure.)

Just sheer magic it was. There was candlelight and rich coffee, and a man playing his guitar. A room full of 21st century mountain hippies. People read poetry they’d written, or else just poems that meant something to them.

But they read too fast. Not that they sped through the poems, but I kept wanting them to back up, read that line again. Because I didn’t get it, didn’t know what it meant. And how could I understand the poem if I couldn’t keep up with it?

See, that’s how I read poetry before that night.

But there at that reading, I learned, by necessity, a new way. I couldn’t very well raise my hand and ask the readers to back up, so I was forced to listen to the whole poem, not just the lines. I learned to let the words flow over me, or through me, like water, and what I gained from that was a truer meaning in the poem than dissected words could give me.

Which brings me to Bible reading.

A lot of people can break down a verse better than I can, but I’m pretty good, and I’ve got all the tools. I’ve got a Vines Expository Dictionary, a concordance, several cross-reference Bibles and a shelf full of commentaries.

The trouble is, when I’m done, what I’ve got is a broken down Bible verse.

Which brings me to Brian Hardin.

Honestly. Because this multi-talented record producer, photographer and graphic artist* just happens to have a quiet, warm voice, which he uses in his 1 Year Daily Audio Bible Podcast**, to read the Bible aloud to you. So you can’t stop to look up the original meaning of a word or see how many times it was used in the Old Testament and in what contexts. You can only let the words wash over and through you and feel the truths that lie beyond their definitions.

And that is quite the way to start your morning, or end your day.

*Brian’s business website is here.
**The podcast can also be found on iTunes. Look up “1 Year Daily Audio Bible.”

I’m not inclined to get political here. A week or so ago I started a post about The DaVinci Code, and I ended up scrapping it,* because it seemed that enough and too much had been said about it already.

The American media thrives on a good fight. It has learned that a knock-down drag-out can be started simply by taking two people at the extreme opposite ends of an issue and getting them to address each other on the air. A good fight always draws a crowd.

But in a knock-down drag-out, nobody listens to anybody. It’s not the point. The point is to draw blood.

I’m getting so tired of the noise. I wish we could all just sit down like normal human beings who care about each other, and you know, discuss. With no hitting allowed.

Dick Staub, who always seems to interview the people I want to hear from, about the things I want talked about, now podcasts a radio show he’s begun in Seatle, Washington, called The Kindlings Muse.

The point of the show is that kind of discussion. Staub bills it as “an intelligent, imaginative and hospitable exploration of ideas that matter in contemporary life.”

Hospitable. Yes, thank you! Please somebody, get me more of this.

Here’s a quote from the show from panelist Greg Wolfe, editor of Image: “At the heart of all great art is a language… of intuition and imagination that has a way of leaping over all the cultural “talking points,” a place where people can meet in a space where there is a kind of openness… We long for the infinte, for something more, and art these days is one of the few places where that desire can be awakened and people can come together along those lines.”

The podcast is broken up into segments. You’ll want to start with the first one, dated May 22, and then listen to them in order.


*Okay, I’ll give you a hint. I wish we’d shut up about The DaVinci Code and just write another Gillead.