I've always held that a poet reading their work is far more powerful than reading their work in print. There is power, rhythm, emotion behind the actual reading that is often missed on the page. Or misinterpreted. I've been an advocate of listening to poets for as long as I've loved poetry...which has been at least since I was old enough to pretend that I understood poetry. It is no surprise, then, that I enjoy listening to them read their work.
What I never expected, however, is how much I enjoy listening to them read other stuff. Not even other poetry, just other stuff. Case in point: I simply cannot get enough of Andrei Codrescu's columns on NPR. Every time I happen upon his voice, I feel warm, happy, transported. I'm sure his accent plays a part. It is charming and welcoming. It reminds me of my dear, dear Romanian friend that I've lost touch with but who I think of fondly and miss a great deal. Perhaps that is my weakness, perhaps that is his unwitting strength.
There's more: When he makes a joke he plows right through it and doesn't pause for the response, rendering it somehow less a joke and more fact. More pronouncement than mere idea. Which makes it funnier. Deliciously so. When I hear him do this, I wonder how I might be able to achieve the same effect in fiction. On the page. I don't know that I can, I don't know that it's possible. You need his voice to make it so. You need his unique humor to make it work.
I have no idea what time his columns are on, I never tune in especially. They are, instead, little gems doled out by the universe when I'm rushing somewhere and turn on the radio. When his voice fills the car my tense muscles go slack and I bask in the wry humor and kindness of his voice. In the insightful, well-traveled commentary he tosses my way. In the memory of my dear friend who made me laugh endlessly the last time I saw her.
A few of his recent columns to bask in:
No Smoking in Paris, Dublin - and New Orleans?
Your Life, Preserved in a Chip in Your Heel
There Are Bodies, and Then There Are Bodies
Wrath of Grapes: Yelling for a Good Reason?
New Hampshire and Smoking: Live Free, Die Less?