A phantasmagoria on the life of poet Francis Ledwidge, Walking the Road is a memorable and emotional play by Dermot Bolger, author of Martha’s Streets. Having gown up in Ledwidge’s home county of Meath, Ireland and having visited his workplace Dunsany Castle daily for years with my milkman father, I have always felt a strong connection to the Irish poet. Bolger’s play reflects the harshness of life for the Irish working poor of a century ago, and the massive conflict felt by and about Irish Nationalists fighting in British army regiments. The scene in which Ledwidge’s fellow Irish soldiers announce their names and hometowns gave me chills and haunts me weeks after listening. You can hear it at RTE and another of Ledwidge’s greatest works at Librivox.
The producers of This American Life began a new podcast series last week. They call it Serial and it is the most exciting development in podcasting since its inception.
Podcasting is perhaps best known as a delivery system for traditional media. Other creators have used it for dramatic storytelling, the most popular result being Welcome to Night Vale. But the production values and the storytelling credentials of Ira Glass, Sarah Koenig and others at This American Life, and the fact they are unearthing evidence related to a true crime, elevate this series above all others in my opinion. Serial reminds me of 1996, eagerly awaiting each installment of Stephen King’s The Green Mile (originally released in 6 monthly volumes).
While being reminiscent of Old Time Radio from the first half of the 20th Century, Serial feels like the birth of a new art form. Subscribe now for weekly installments. Ira Glass and “Irish friend” Mary Ahearn will now explain how to listen to a podcast:
You can hear my voice in the new edition of Contrast Podcast, which has the theme “Best of 2010 (So Far).” My pick was Anaïs Mitchell’s Hadestown album (click title for my review) and I submitted the 100% legal, label-authorized mp3 “Flowers (Eurydice Song).” Hadestown will almost certainly still be my #1 album of 2010 at the end of the year.
As I mentioned in the intro, there have been several releases I’ve loved this year. You can find those reviews at the links below. Great Northern’s album in particular is one that I seriously considered for the podcast.
Araby Podcast features my Irish husband Brendan reading high calibre (mostly classics, but some new) short stories and novel excerpts. “Araby” was the title of a short story in Dubliners by James Joyce (my boy’s favorite author). Brendan has recorded audiobooks for Librivox.org and does the occasional public reading for our local library’s Irish book club, so it’s not just me that think he has a great voice!
His Araby Podcast so far includes selections by Katherine Mansfield, James Joyce, and my two favorite short stories (I especially love “Martha’s Streets” by Dermot Bolger) from the book New Dubliners – in which modern Irish authors paid tribute to Joyce’s Dubliners with new Dublinesque vignettes.