Friday, July 2, 2010

Tom O'Bedlam Reads Poetry

For about two years, a person with the alias Tom O'Bedlam has been reading poetry, animating the readings with images--often of the text itself--and uploading the audio/video to Youtube. His channel has now attracted over 1,600,000 views, which Youtube calls uploads. I should add that these are not "Tom's" poems but poems more or less from the canon, loosely defined. I immediately found two old favorites, "The Groundhog" and "The Fly"--for example.

I'm no expert on the overlapping micro-demographics of Blogger and Youtube, but if you found your way to this blog, you are already probably aware of Tom O'Bedlam. If by chance you're not, however, simply visit the Youtube Channel called Spoken Verse [with a space] and enjoy accessible, well produced readings of the poems, with great attention to the words themselves, but nothing overly dramatic or stagy.

You'll find old favorites and lots of surprises. And you'll find a link to a farcical story about Youtube's attempting to kick Tom off the premises, simply because he used a photo of a woman with one breast exposed in connection with a poem he read by Michael Ondaatje. Film critic Roger Ebert was drawn into the silliness, and Tom's channel was returned to good standing. I'll provide a link here to the tale as told by Ebert:

Ebert and O'Bedlam

Ebert intimates that we should be able to detect to whom the British voice belongs (an actor), so there's a bit of added "intrigue."

But Tom O'Bedlam's project is just one of those simple but splendid things made possible by mass media, which Tom is using artfully to transmit, celebrate, and, arguably, revive a non-mass-medium, poetry.

Here is Tom's own self-effacing description (from his Channel) of how he does what he does:

"I record everything sitting at my desk in my small office. The microphone I use (these days) is a Rode Podcaster plugged into a USB port. The software is either WavePad or Audacity - both free downloads. Anybody could do it."

So please do pay Tom's channel a visit, start by finding a favorite poem, and take it from there. You won't be sorry, as the advertisements like to say.
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