It is hard to argue that there has been a more lasting and world-altering piece of technology than the good old ink and paper book. Once the machinery for its mass-production was developed, dogmas of all stripes were doomed and a more or less perpetual process of cultural transformation churned into motion.
For all the head-clutching and teeth-gnashing over the "new media," and their supposed disastrous effects on human discourse, they are only building upon the model that the book began.
Whereas radio and television have traditionally reinforced existing political and social structures, books and the new media, because they must be sought out, can be subversive. The web is narrowcast rather than broadcast. A great deal of web content targets splinter-populations that are under- or un-served by the mass media.
Sure, the web is scatterbrained but it's incredibly nimble. It reflects, and more and more, shapes culture in real time, while corporate media have always lagged behind it. Of course, there are dark implications to the development of the new media. The ability of the lunatic fringe (or lunatic center for that matter) to falsify, mislead and outright lie to a self-selected audience of potential foot soldiers is by far the most troubling. The rise to cultural prominence of the Blog Snark and the Web Troll is only slightly less so.
There is no arguing that most web content is sewage or worse, but the same can be said of radio and television (and books, for that matter). It's just that after long exposure to the stench, we can no longer smell it.
All the statements of the obvious above are meant only to introduce this even more obvious statement: there is a lot of intelligent and compelling content on the web, including poetry. Below is my too-slight and too-late effort to point you toward some of it. The list is comprised mainly of poetry establishment-approved podcasts, but there are many many independents out there ranging from coffeehouse open mics to pimply DIY audio angst. All of them have their own singular merits.
Association of Poetry Podcasting / A huge selection of podcasts from the U. S., U. K., Canada, & France.
Avant-Garde All the Time / The poet Kenneth Goldsmith presents selections from UbuWeb (see Ubu Archive below)
The Best Words in their Best Order / Podcasts from Farrar Straus Giroux's stellar stable.
Cellar Door / Stanford University English Dept.
Chicago Poetry Tour Podcast /
A Cup of Poetry / PenguinGroup's poem-a-week podcast.
Essential American Poets /
PBS Newshour Poetry Series / Jim Lehrer presents news and trends in poetry as well as interviews with contemporary poets.
Pennsound Podcasts / from the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing @ the Univerisity of Pennsylvania
Poem of the Day /
Poetcast / The official podcast of the Association of American Poets and poets.org.
The Poetic Voice / Houghton Mifflin's poetry podcast
Poetry Lectures /
Poetry Off the Shelf /
Poetry Magazine Podcast / The perversely capricious and all-powerful editors of the most widely-read poetry journal in the country read and discuss poems, some of which are brilliant and some have merits known only to the eds.
Poetry Radio Project /
Poet Talk /
Slate Poetry Podcasts /
The Writer's Almanac / Garrison Keillor's popular daily broadcasts are as middle of the road as poetry gets, but his voice is soothing, if not sedative.
For those of you new to podcasts, iHCPL will teach you all about them. It's easy, fast and free.
From the Fish House / An "audio archive of emerging poets."
Pennsound / a massive audio archive. Bring provisions, a tent and perhaps a ten-pound bag of bread crumbs.
poets.org / A huge audio archive of the greats, the not-quite-as-greats, and a few of the not-at-all-greats of American Poetry of the 20th and 21st Centuries.
UbuWeb / Take a week or a month off from work, pull the curtains, put on a beret or a lobster-suit and get lost in here. Afterwards, life will never be the same. Weird and wonderful. Not for the faint-of-[insert favorite organ here]. Avoid completely if you believe poems must rhyme, edify, be beautiful, make sense, and/or contain actual words.
Let's just call this particular post an ugly little splat on the windshield of literature. Those of you who have read this far deserve a lollipop. Instead I offer you my thanks for your perseverance (or your masochistic tendencies) and gladly welcome your comments, correctives, corrosive backsplash and suggestions for future posts. -thx, davec