29 Aug Straight from the writer’s mouth
YouTube, that ubiquitous video sharing site, is also a literary treasure trove in disguise. How does this very visual site lend itself to the written word, you might ask? YouTube is home to hours of spoken word clips, user-made videos set to recordings of author and thousands of interviews with that wiley and elusive figure – the writer.
User-generated content is nothing new, but thus far my YouTube consumption has been limited to a diet of hilarious/inappropriate/crazy/ I-can’t-believe-they-did-that clips. However, a little digging unearthed some interesting tidbits of literary goodness.
YouTube has two kinds of videos set to poems or prose – the first is an actual visual narrative that accompanies the words; and the second is a collection of images fading in and out – often a sort of collage of the author’s life.
One of my favourite examples of the visual narrative video is Tonight I can write the saddest lines, by Pablo Neruda. Read (somewhat monotonously) by actor Andy Garcia, the video is beautiful – grey and grainy and whimsical. The image of the empty porch swing, rocking alone, lingers. You can read the poem en Espanol too – but the Beethoven in the background of this clip makes it too sacchrine for my tastes.
Another pretty video accompanies Robert Bly’s Stealing Sugar from the Castle. This is dubbed a “film poem,” in the accompanying information, and is created by a company called Four Season Productions for a series called RANT*RAVE*RIFF. I don’t love all of these interpretations, but it’s an interesting project nonetheless.
Here are a couple picks on the biographical montage side of things – I picked these based on the richness of the reading. Charles Bukowski’s Bluebird is worth a listen – it’s always interesting to hear a poet’s cadence as they read their work. I also like The Secret of my Endurance – especially the audience’s laughter, and the piano plonks that end the clip.
YouTube offers up interviews with every author imaginable, and I think it would take a lifetime to go through them all. But I like this clip of legendary sci-fi author Ray Bradbury talking about writing – and happiness.
There are also hundreds of interviews with Kurt Vonnegut, as well as quite a few tributes to him created after his death in 2007. Some of them are quite touching – search the site for Vonnegut to see a list of them.