As part of my research for the second novel, a few months ago I reread Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, both for the language and for his images of sea and sail. Today, browsing openculture.com, I came upon a dramatized reading of it. I began listening and was immediately taken in, in a way that reading it on the page could never approach. It reminded me, instantly, of sitting by a campfire as a kid, listening to a cottage neighbour recite The Cremation of Sam McGee. That poem, and the voice of the man who recited it, are twined together in my memory. I can’t read it today without hearing it in his Toledo Ohio accent.
It made me think for a moment of my favourite books, some of them certainly made into audio books. Perhaps I will track them down and read them again, with my ears this time. And, if I had my way, who would read Neruda's or Mary Oliver's poems to me, or The Robber Bride, or Galore or Jane Eyre? Words on a page ask for more interrogation, I think. They ask to be studied and analyzed, and I almost always oblige. But hearing something read aloud, by virtue of the immediacy, I tend to be more focused. My brain shuts down the extraneous questions and just listens to the words; I fall into the story. So, here are the links, if you’d like to try:
It takes all of half an hour and is, in my opinion, better entertainment for your brain than any half-hour show you’re likely to find on Netflix.
And, if you’ve got the time and inclination to continue the theme: mobydickbigread.com
Erin Bedford, writer.