I don’t mind adventure, but there are times when I seek the routine, the predictable, those small rituals that give the day a sense of the familiar. For the last several weeks, I have added one ritual—it only takes five minutes, but each morning I look forward to this new addition to my day.My morning routine includes listening to the podcast, The Slowdown, by U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. Each weekday, Smith reads one poem. She opens the podcast with a few minutes of commentary, almost like a short essay, and then steps into the world of the poet’s words. I heard Smith speak last year and I believe she feels poetry should be accessible to everyone. Too often in school it could be taught as a riddle or mystery, when in fact, most poets do not start out trying to confuse their readers. She takes a thoughtful approach in her commentary, weaving in her own stories, while preparing us for the poem that follows. She selects poems from various poets, which is one way to get exposed to many voices. Her delivery is soothing and well-paced, and is perfect for listening to the words. And it only takes five minutes.
I subscribe to several podcasts, many of them are on writing and books, but these days you can find a podcast on almost any topic. By listening to The Slowdown, I start my mornings a bit more slowly these days, because each poem always give me a new insight and something to ponder as I make my bed, put away dishes, or sit at my desk.
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on the website, The Slowdown. Even if you think poems are too hard to understand, I think you will love this podcast, as well as the breadth of topics it covers.
Update: Friday, January 25, 2019: Here is a link to a New York Times article where Tracy K. Smith goes through her workday – poetry, family, work, and other obligations.