101 Early Wallace Stevens Poems on Free Audio

Here’s a quick little find for the poetry lover: A slew of early poems by Wallace Stevens, the great American poet, can now be downloaded as podcasts (iTunes). They include many classics — Anecdote of the Jar, The Emperor of Ice Cream, Peter Quince at the Clavier, Sunday Morning, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird, and many others. Recorded for LibriVox by Alan Drake, all poems are in the public domain.

Speaking of Wallace Stevens, you may want to give a listen to a podcast that we highlighted here once before. It features the great literary critic Harold Bloom (see bio) teaching a seminar at Yale on “The Art of Reading a Poem” (iTunesmp3). Here, Bloom takes his students through a poem by Wallace Stevens, Parts of a World,and moves between interpretation and intriguing personal anecdotes. If you want to hear a master at work, give a good listen.

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Einstein’s E = mc2 Explained

E = mc2. It’s hands-down the most well known equation out there. But how many have the faintest idea what the equation really means? Not too long ago, PBS’ NOVA put together a “docudrama,” called Einstein’s Big Idea, which took a close look at how Einstein arrived at the equation and what it means. Along with the program, NOVA produced some related media resources, among which you’ll find a series of podcasts (iTunesFeedmp3) featuring 10 top physicists (including two Nobel Prize winners) who briefly explain the meaning and importance of E = mc2. In addition, and perhaps even better, they’ve posted an audio clip of Einstein himself explaining what the equation is all about. You’ll find many good resources here, so have a good look around.

If physics intrigues you, you should also check out a new Stanford course that’s being distributed for free via video podcast. The course, Modern Theoretical Physics: Quantum Entanglement, is presented by Leonard Susskind, whom many consider the father of string theory, a controversial innovation in physics that squares quantum theory with relativity and explains the nature of all matter and forces. Now, when Susskind discusses quantum entanglement, he is surely getting into some heady, cutting-edge stuff. But the good thing is that the very popular course was presented through Stanford’s Continuing Studies Program (where I work, just to put my cards on the table), and was geared toward the general public. The course is expected to last a full year, and it should result in 30 free two-hour lectures, which will all be gradually posted online. You can find a more detailed course description here.

The Big Picture: Who Won and Lost in Iraq


Open Source
, an always insightful public radio program, aired last week a show that took a broad look at the winners and losers of the Iraq war. Taking up a theme that was also recently explored in an edition of Foreign Policy magazine, the host, Christopher Lydon, spoke with a panel of experts from respected think tanks, universities, and newspapers, and, together, they drew conclusions about winners and losers, some of which aren’t so obvious. Here’s a quick recap, but we recommend giving the show a listen (iTunesFeedMp3) and taking a look at its well-done blog.


  • Iran & Shiism: With Iraq, its traditional rival, in chaos, Iran is now free to project its power across the Middle East and tilt the balance of regional power in favor of Shiite Islam. It’s partly because Iran is making such a strong showing that the hawks in Washington may feel the strategic need to eventually use military force against Iran. In this sense, the US is playing out a more extreme version of the strategy it used during the Iran-Iraq War that dragged on through the 1980s. Weaken one power, then the other.
  • China:  No one is noticing it now, but down the road, we might be writing a history that talks about how the US adventure in Iraq gave China the room to emerge rapidly as a new superpower — a superpower that could plausibly present itself to the international community as more diplomatic and peaceful than the US alternative.
  • al-Qaeda: The Iraq war has helped al-Qaeda’s recruitment efforts, precisely as many warned, and, if the US eventually abandons Iraq, they’ll feel emboldened no doubt.
  • Arab Dictators: The heat had been ratcheted up against many Middle East dictators, but with everyone distracted by Iraq, they are able to perpetuate their corrupt rule for yet a while longer.
  • Multi-Lateralism, Old Europe & the UN: They were all dismissed by the Bush administration in the run up to the war, but they’re all looking better and more worthwhile with each passing day.


  • Iraq & The United States: Two obvious picks.
  • Unilateralism & The Neo-Cons: The neo-con approach has splendidly discredited itself, but the rub is that neo-cons still sit in power and they may unilaterally force their way into Iran before the people get to the ballot box again.
  • Tony Blair & the Special Relationship between the US and England: Tony Blair is saying his long goodbye. He’ll be gone before too long, and, with him, may go the only other substantial member of the "Coalition of the Willing."
  • The Price of Oil: It’s a loser if you’re a consumer … but not if you’re an executive at Exxon.

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Stanford Online Writing Courses: Now Open for Registration


Here’s a quick heads up: Starting today, you can
register for online writing courses at Stanford. Offered by Stanford
Continuing Studies and the Stanford Creative Writing Program (which is
one of the most distinguished writing programs in the country), these online
courses give beginning and advanced writers, no matter where they live,
the chance to refine their craft in a high-caliber writers’ workshop. Here are the courses being offered this quarter:

Classes begin on/around April 9 and last 10 weeks. The last time we offered these courses they sold out within the first week.  So, if you’re interested, you may want to give them a look sooner than later. For more information, click here, or separately check out the FAQ.
(Full disclosure: I helped set up these courses and think they’re a
great educational opportunity. But nonetheless take my opinion with a
grain of salt.)

The New Yorker Magazine’s Famous Cartoons Now Available on Podcast

Here’s a different kind of podcast: You can now find on iTunes a new video podcast that features animated versions of The New Yorker’s famous cartoons. A venture called RingTales has apparently been given an exclusive license to animate and distribute The New Yorker’s library of over 70,000 cartoons. Each week, they’ll issue three new video animations, which you can access on iTunes as well as by rss feed. They’ll also be available on The New Yorker website. For more details, see this press release.

More Free Classical Music Podcasts: Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Wagner and Some Yo-Yo Ma


MozartipodWe spent some time this weekend overhauling our Arts & Culture Podcast Collection (plus creating a

new Science Podcast Collection), and, along the way, we dug up several good free podcasts for classical music fans. Here’s a quick overview of what we found:

With last year being the 250th anniversary of Mozart‘s birth, there was no shortage of podcasts dedicated to Mozart’s masterpieces. First, Radio Sweden (iTunes  Feed  Web Site) reissued a digital archive of Mozart recordings by the Royal Swedish Opera from the 1940s and 1950s. And, along very similar lines, Danmarks Radio (Feed  Web Site) issued podcasts of nine Mozart symphonies recorded by the Danish Radio Symphony
Orchestra. (You’ll find here symphonies numbers 15, 17, 23, 34, 35, 36, 39, 40, and 41.) Since the web site is in Danish, we’d recommend accessing
these high quality MP3’s through the rss feed listed above. Lastly, we should mention here that, as part of last year’s festivities, The International Mozart Foundation published online for the first time the entirety of of Mozart’s musical scores.

Along with Mozart, you can find plenty of Beethoven. We have highlighted here before, but it’s worth noting again, Deutsche Welle’s podcast collection called Beethovenfest (iTunes  Feed  Web Site). You’ll want to give it a look, and also see the podcast collection put together by the Boston Symphony Orchestra Conservatory (iTunes  Feed  Web Site). This educational series offers an extensive overview and recordings of Beethoven’s work, as well as that of Arnold Schoenberg. You can also catch more Beethoven (as well as a little Mozart and Bach) with the podcast series called The Concert (iTunes  Feed  Web Site), which features recordings from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Speaking of Bach, you may want to give some time to these two podcasts: Bach Festival of Philadelphia (Feed  Web Site) and Bach Podcast from Magnatune.com  iTunes  Feed  Web Site).

Let’s now leave you with a few other good finds. Wagner Operas Podcast (iTunes  Feed  Web Site) lets you listen in on recordings from the annual Bayreuth Festival, plus more. The Gramophone Podcast (Feed  Web Site) offers "a monthly window into the world’s most authoritative classical
music magazine, featuring an overview of the best releases, news,
exclusive interviews with leading figures from the music world, and
lots of great music." An Intimate Tour Through the Music of Yo-Yo Ma (iTunes  Feed  Web Site) offers essentially what the title says. Finally, we’d recommend Classical Performance (iTunes  Feed  Web Site), which consists of classical music performances from WGBH’s Studio One in Boston. Hope this fills your weekend (and your iPod).

Get more classical music podcasts here.

See Open Culture’s podcast collections:

Arts & CultureAudio BooksForeign Language LessonsNews & InformationScienceTechnologyUniversity (General)University (B-School)


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