This Week is Lit

Saranac Review is excited to announce a literary project created by Dr. Paul Johnston, a professor at our host institution, SUNY Plattsburgh! 

Dr. Johnston is launching a new podcast—Fireside Poems—this coming Wednesday, August 5.  New episodes will then appear weekly on Wednesdays. Fireside Poems focuses on the nineteenth-century American poets collectively known as the Fireside Poets: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Cullen Bryant, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Greenleaf Whittier, and James Russell Lowell.  In each episode Dr. J will introduce a new poem, read it aloud, discuss it, and then read it aloud again.  Most often the poem will be by Longfellow. Each episode will be 8-10 minutes

When asked why he’s doing this podcast, Dr J explained: “I’ve taught literature and poetry for more than thirty years because I believe imaginative literature strengthens both our minds and the societies we live in.  School often gives the wrong impression of poetry—that poems are puzzles to be solved and occasions for writing papers—but this isn’t the case.  Poems are written to be enjoyed, to be taken to heart, to be turned to in our difficult times.  The poems of the Fireside Poets are particularly successful at answering these needs.  They can be enjoyed by anyone who is open to them.  At the same time, they exemplify all the facets of the poet’s art.  My goal in each episode, then, is to share the nourishment for the soul and society that poetry provides, while at the same time deepening the listener’s appreciation of how poets do the wonderful thing that they do.”

Each episode of Fireside Poems will be available through the podcast’s website—firesidepoems.com—and through most podcast apps beginning Wednesday.

This coming September 1, Dr. Johnston will be officially retired from SUNY Plattsburgh. During his thirty years there he taught American literature, Shakespeare, literature and science, and literature and the environment.  He occasionally contributes essays to Commonweal and other national magazines.  Podcasting is for him a new adventure.


More Reading and Workshop Resources: 

August 2, 7:00pm EDT, Poets in Pajamas
Ashley C. Lanuza, author of the collection My Heart of Rice, is this week’s featured reader for Poets in Pajamas. You can check this series out right on Facebook.

August 5, 7:00pm EDT, Brookline Booksmith’s Virtual Events
Once again, bookseller Brookline Booksmith’s presents a broad range of events in their weekly list of readings. Among them, author Jill McCorkle will be reading from her newest novel Hieroglyphics. Click here to access the event.

August 5, 7:30pm EDT, Wild & Precious Life Series
If it’s Wednesday night, it’s WPLS night! Join host Dustin Brookshire as he welcomes in this week’s guests: Ashanti Anderson, Carol Ann Davis, Nazifa Islam, and Luther Hughes. “Doors” open at 7! Click here for the details.

August 7, 8pm EDT, Politics and Prose Live!
Every week, DC-based bookstore Politics and Prose packs their schedule with literary events. This week, check out Laura van den Berg whose new story collection I Hold a Wolf by the Ears is out now. She’ll be joined in conversation with Tania James, Amber Sparks, and Rion Amilcar Scott. Details here!