Interesting People Reading Poetry

Interesting People Reading Poetry

A few weeks ago I saw a tweet pointing to a website featuring Benjamin Percy reading poetry by Brian Turner. Intrigued, I followed the link and landed on a website called Interesting People Reading Poetry. I immediately thought, ‘This would be great content.’

I fired off a message to the email associated with the site and received a prompt reply from Brendan Stermer, who with his brother Andy, started Interesting People Reading Poetry.

Brendan describes Interesting People Reading Poetry as “a weekly podcast where artists and changemakers read a favorite poem, and talk a bit about what it means to them.”

“The goal of our show is to make the poetry world more accessible to the general public, and also to demonstrate that you don’t need to be a poet or an academic to enjoy and engage with poetry,” he says. “Our guests range from politicians to scientists, comedians to musicians.”

The end of every episode includes a selection of short, listener-submitted poems on a given theme. Listeners submit poems via text and voicemail on what the brothers call the Haiku Hotline. Three favorites are chosen to play on the show.

I asked Brendan quite a few questions, about the podcast, their background, the technical whatnot, and the criteria necessary to qualify as an interesting person. And he was gracious enough to answer my questions. Every. Single. One.

Video: Mike Lowery’s ‘Doodle Adventures’

There’s something a little mesmerizing about watching author/illustrator Mike Lowery doodle in his Doodle Adventures books: The Search for the Slimy Space Slugs!, The Pursuit of the Pesky Pizza Pirate!, and The Rise of the Rusty Robo-Cat!

I like that he’s introducing the entire series, and that he’s showing and telling how to use the books–demonstrating that it’s actually okay to write in some books. (A hurdle I only recently cleared myself, but that’s another story.) The video production is well-done.

If you want to be mesmerized a bit more, check out more videos on Lowery’s Instagram. But don’t plan on getting any work done for a while.

And if you’d like to share this video with your customers, here’s the embed code:

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Say As I Do: John Boyne

Say As I Do: John Boyne

John Boyne’s book The Heart’s Invisible Furies (Hogarth | 9781524760786) was released last week and I interviewed Boyne for this Friday’s Marginalia podcast. While I had him on Skype, I asked if he had a message he’d like to send to independent booksellers. Here’s what he said (as well as how to correctly pronounce his name):



This is John Boyne. I’m the author of the novel THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES.

My younger sister actually works in an independent bookshop and has done for many years now in Dublin. And I worked in a bookshop for many years as well–for seven years–while I was getting my writing career off the ground. So I know what it’s like to be in those places, to work in them and the joy of really hand selling to customers… of feeling that kind of passion for books.

And you know that lovely moment where somebody comes in maybe and says, “My 13-year-old kid has just really got into reading and has read this and this. What would you recommend next?” And the bookseller goes, “Great! Well, come with me!” I miss that; I loved that; and I am grateful for the passion and support that all booksellers really bring to bookselling and to literature and to writers. I think all writers should be grateful for that.

Chuck’s Big Ride, part 2.

Do you remember Chuck’s Big Ride?

In 2015, Chuck Robinson–who co-founded Village Books in Bellingham, WA, with his wife Dee–began a 2400 mile journey on his bicycle, while Dee followed with the support camper. The goal was to bike from Bellingham to Galva, Illinois, where Chuck was to attend his 50th high school reunion. Chuck pledged to contribute $1 per mile to three separate non-profit organizations.

I ‘covered’ the trek through StoryMap, until day 37 when an altercation with some dogs ended Chuck’s ride. The dogs were fine, but Chuck suffered a broken rib.

Two years later, Chuck is ready to climb back on the bike, starting another 2000 mile journey where the last one ended. And we’re following along again with another StoryMap: Chuck’s Big Ride Redux 2017.

“I’ll begin the ride on September 1st where those dogs took me down and, after saying hello to them, I’ll pedal on to Bar Harbor, Maine,” Chuck writes. “Once again, I’m pledging $1 per mile to each of three organizations.”

The three organizations are:

  • The mission of the Whatcom Community Foundation is to “amplify the force of philanthropy—by connecting people, ideas and resources—so that communities flourish.” It helps folks do amazing things in Whatcom County and beyond, making this world a better place for all of us to live. Donate to WCF.
  • Whatcom Community College is celebrating its 50th year—“building futures together since 1967.” WCC has been recognized as one of the leading community colleges in the nation and leads the region in cybersecurity and nursing education. Donate to WCC
  • The Book Industry Charitable Foundation (BINC) has been assisting booksellers in need since 1986, by helping in times of unexpected financial crises. BINC also has given scholarships to bookstore employees and their dependents, and assisted booksellers in attending industry events. Donate to BINC.

Those who want to help may pledge as little as 1¢ per mile for a total of $20, or you can join Chuck and pledge $1 or more per mile.

And if you want to join the ride along the way, Chuck welcomes the company. Just email him to set up an rendezvous point.

Say As I Do: Kamila Shamsie

Say As I Do: Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie’s book Home Fire (Riverhead Books | 9780735217683) hits shelves tomorrow. Late last month it was longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. I interviewed Shamsie for this Friday’s Marginalia podcast and while I had her on the line, I asked if she had a message she’d like to send to independent booksellers. Here’s what she said (as well as how to correctly pronounce her name):



“I love you. When I was in graduate school at UMass Amherst, one of the things that I loved most was we had in Amherst there was a independent bookstore called Wootton’s and they had readings by the graduate students in the UMass MFA program. It was amazing because one day you’d be at Wootton’s Bookstore [Amherst Books] listening to someone like Peter Carey or Michael Ondaatje, you know, these writers who I love. And then the next week you would have a chance to stand up and read in that same space. And Mark Wootton who ran it was incredibly generous to the MFA students. And I think that was the first independent bookstore I really loved and understood how the independent bookstores can be such an important part of a local community and how important they can be to upcoming writers. So I’ve always had a particularly soft corner for them.”


And here’s how she says her name: