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Archive for Sunday, January 26, 2003

Radio poet regales commuters

January 26, 2003

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— It was 7:50 on a Monday morning. Fog hung over the city and a drowsy voice sounding like a sleepy Winnie the Pooh crawled from the radio.

It was poet Scott Poole reading his latest work.

"I was at a bus stop
and suddenly wanted love.
But, there was only me
and the bus kiosk," the poem began.

Poole is heard every Monday morning on Spokane Public Radio, and he may be the nation's only regularly scheduled radio poet. His poems are a sideways look at everyday life -- odes to garage door openers, naps and the Marvin Gardens square on Monopoly. His recitation is aired during a break in "Morning Edition."

"As long as they'll have me, I'll keep doing them," said Poole, 32, associate director of the Eastern Washington University Press in nearby Cheney.

Poole's poems have drawn strong reaction from listeners.

"At first we got only compliments," said KPBX producer Marty Demarest. "But we've had a decent share of complaints. The fact that we regularly get commentary regarding poetry is a success." But the commonplace nature of his topics is the reason Poole will continue to get nearly two minutes of morning drive time every Monday, Demarest said.

"He doesn't reference deities or philosophers or codes of belief," Demarest said. "It references garages and lawnmowers and everyday life. I love most of his poems, even when I don't understand them."

scott poole, 32, poses at his downtown office in Spokane, Wash.
Poole has a weekly poetry broadcast on Spokane Public Radio and is
author of a book of poetry titled "Hiding from Salesmen."

scott poole, 32, poses at his downtown office in Spokane, Wash. Poole has a weekly poetry broadcast on Spokane Public Radio and is author of a book of poetry titled "Hiding from Salesmen."

Poole also wrote a couple of special poems to be read during public radio pledge drives, Demarest said, marking perhaps the first time "poetry made money for public radio."

His poems air on Monday because "very little happens in the news on Monday," Demarest said. "Monday is the wasteland of the radio."

But not generally a home for the likes of "The Waste Land," by T.S. Eliot. Radio is a rare venue for poetry, even though the two forms would seem to be made for each other. The only other poets Poole hears on the radio are cowboy poet Baxter Black, who does commentaries on NPR, and poets who appear on "The Writer's Almanac," a show hosted by Garrison Keillor. Poetry magazine in Chicago had no comment on the topic of radio poets.

One of the most interesting aspects of the show is Poole's voice, which could be mistaken for a woman's or a child's. It's a cuddly, teddy bear kind of voice.

"Scott's radio voice is unlike any voice in public radio," Demarest said. "It's disconcerting enough to know it is not 'Morning Edition' you are hearing."

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