Wired for Books
PostedNovember 28, 2004
The Wired for Books website is home to scores of poetry audio clips, ranging from a reading of Homer’s The Iliad in ancient Greek and Virgil’s The Aeneid in Latin, to poems by William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, John Keats, Frank Bidart, Amy Hempel, and Maya Angelou. Interviews with poets, most lasting from fifteen to forty-five minutes, are also available from the archives of the daily CBS radio show, "Book Beat," which was hosted throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s by journalist and broadcaster Don Swaim. One interview captures Karl Shapiro discussing the first volume of his planned three-volume autobiography, The Younger Son, in which he refers to himself not as "I" but as "The poet." Another features James Dickey, in his Southern drawl, outlining the differences between poetry and fiction.
The poetry section is part of a larger site created by Ohio University, where one can listen to the works of such writers as Mark Twain, Edgar Allan Poe, and Charles Dickens, or to interviews conducted by Don Swaim with over three hundred writers and scholars, including Margaret Atwood, T. C. Boyle, William Burroughs, Carlos Fuentes, Allan Gurganus, Joseph Heller, William Styron, Calvin Trillin, John Updike, and Kurt Vonnegut. A Kids’ Corner features the stories of Beatrix Potter, where multilingual children will relish the tales of Peter Rabbit not only in English, but also in French, German, and Japanese.
One shortcoming of the site is its lack of organization. There is little apparent logic to the layout of the homepage, where, for example, the Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, who won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature and penned the Indian national anthem, is sandwiched between Robert Pinsky on one side and former hostage Terry Anderson on the other. Still, a click on the Don Swaim icon takes the visitor to an alphabetical listing of interviewees, a page that can serve as compass to the confused visitor.