The Art of Reading a Poem (According to Harold Bloom)

Most uni­ver­si­ty pod­casts allow the out­side world to lis­ten in on fair­ly pol­ished and for­mal cam­pus lec­tures. But this pod­cast is dif­fer­ent. As part of its new iTunes ini­tia­tive, Yale Uni­ver­si­ty has recent­ly released a record­ing of famed lit­er­ary crit­ic Harold Bloom (see bio) teach­ing a sem­i­nar on “The Art of Read­ing a Poem” (lis­ten above). Here, Bloom endear­ing­ly takes his stu­dents through a poem by Wal­lace Stevens, Parts of a World, and con­stant­ly moves between inter­pre­ta­tion and digres­sion — digres­sions that are often filled with intrigu­ing per­son­al anec­dotes (as well as fre­quent laments for oth­er thinkers from Bloom’s gen­er­a­tion who have since passed away).

The pod­cast is notable for being remark­ably unedit­ed, which has its plus­es and minus­es. On the down­side, the sem­i­nar does­n’t real­ly get going until 13 min­utes in (so con­sid­er start­ing there), and the first few min­utes include a long stretch of silence when Bloom excus­es him­self from the room. On the upside, the unedit­ed cut cre­ates a kind of ciné­ma vérité expe­ri­ence for the lis­ten­er. You get to hear Bloom, one of Amer­i­ca’s best lit­er­ary crit­ics, work­ing in the class­room in an unadul­ter­at­ed way, teas­ing apart a poem by one of Amer­i­ca’s best poets. There is some­thing imme­di­ate, pure and excit­ing about this way of using the pod­cast, an approach that uni­ver­si­ties should look at more close­ly.

See more Uni­ver­si­ty Pod­casts here.

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Comments (5)
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  • Don says:

    Does any­one know if there will be any more of Harold Bloom’s lec­tures made avail­able. I absolute­ly loved this first lec­ture on the art of read­ing poet­ry and the dis­cus­sion of Steven’s The Poems of Our Cli­mate. Wish there were more…

    Much thanks,

  • Colin Johnson says:

    For an alum­nus out­side of Yale, how do I gain access to Black­board or oth­er source to get the syl­labus for Prof. Bloom’s Poet­ry pod­cast?

  • John Landau says:

    How can I lis­ten to Bloom’s pod­cast on Wal­lace Stevens from Jan 2007?
    Help! Please!

  • Masoud says:

    Who Can send me a pdf ver­sion of these books:

    “The Art of Read­ing a Poet­ry” By H. Bloom
    “How to Read and Why” By H. Bloom

    I need these book.

  • Lachhmi says:

    Can u Please pro­vide me some notes on Harold Bloom’s Art of read­ing poet­ry.

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