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Why I'm in Love with Poetry Unbound

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

Pádraig Ó Tuama might be my favorite new person. Every podcast has me on the edge of tears---not from sadness, but from an incredulous feeling of tapping into the root of what it means to live on this earth, to be human. Padraig's voice is calm and soothing (and who doesn't love an Irish accent?), but the attraction is more than that. His voice has a solid quality, that makes you feel like you are being held. Held and comforted with gentle authority.

I've always liked poetry, but rarely understood verse in the way I would like to dig into it. Therefore, like most people, I don't read nearly enough of it. There have been poems and poets who have struck me over my lifetime, a few of which I include in my upcoming novel Where Are We Tomorrow? Poems like Naomi Shihab Nye's "So Much Happiness", Rita Dove's "Reverie", Mary Oliver's "Peonies", Baudelaire's "The Voice". I love Charles Wright, Natalie Diaz and Billie Collins. But there are hundreds, probably thousands of poets out there that I know nothing about.

Pádraig Ó Tuama not only introduces us to new poets and poems, he helps us consider their words slowly, thoughtfully. He walks us through, line by line, making us consider the world from a different perspective. The first time I listened to one of his podcasts, I thought, as I neared the end, "Now I need to read that poem again." And then, as I kept listening, I almost cried with relief when, like a gift, Pádraig read the poem again himself, as he does on each episode. The listener hears the poem anew, armed with greater knowledge and understanding.

Thank you, Katie Simpson, for introducing me to this podcast. Just thinking about listening fills me with joy. Find yourself a quiet place (I suggest outside, walking.) Listen. You won't regret it.

Some of my favorites so far on the podcast:

Ada Limon's Wonder Woman

Chris Abani's New Religion

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Nov 22, 2020

Hi Mary Jane. Thanks for your comment. I imagine that must be fabulous, talking to him in person. His voice, yes, but I think it he touches us because he so clearly articulates his thoughts and that he cuts to the heart of things. No surface chat. You don't get that very often. Cheers!


Nov 21, 2020

Hi, this is Katie’s mom, Mary Jane. I also adore this poet. Katie’s Irish cousin, Simone, who like with Padraig works in conflict resolution has shared a pint with him more than once. I understand the tears thing. Interestingly, Simone told me that ever time she has been with him, she has cried. Is it his voice?

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