Podcasts are reviving content in the audio medium, having become the new-age means of engaging with popular media, academia, politics and more. From learning a new language to exploring an obscure aspect of pop culture, there seems to be a podcast channel discussing just about every topic under the sun. Out of the millions of shows and episodes that flood various platforms, here is a list of podcasts you must listen to if you are a lover of the arts.
The Poetry Magazine Podcast
For fans of verse, the Poetry Foundation produces The Poetry Magazine Podcast in which the editors select and discuss a single poem published in the magazine. Each weekly episode features a writer reciting a poem in their own voice, followed by an in-depth exploration of the work by the editors. This works particularly well in the audio medium, since the element of sound gives the analysis another dimension. The poet also shares their story behind writing the poem and elaborates on its themes. The editors draw a listener’s attention to the nuances of the poem, allowing for a unique understanding of the piece, and creating a new way to enjoy poetry.
The Guardian Books Podcast
The Guardian Books Podcast brings in guests for each episode to discuss all things related to books; fiction, poetry, classics, and every other facet of literature. The hosts, Claire Armistead, Richard Lea, and Sian Cain, converse with authors, critics, and other professionals about contemporary books, and hold interviews with accomplished voices in the field. Labelled “the perfect book worm’s companion,” the weekly podcast provides an insight into current trends in the literary world.
The hosts of this podcast encourage listeners to further engage with works by women in the literary world by discussing books written by or about women. Reading Women highlights a variety of such texts, provides analyses of selected titles, and features interviews with women in the field of writing. This weekly podcast is, in addition, framed by a monthly theme, the latest of which happened to be the partition of India. The texts are explored through the lenses of both feminism as well as intersectional identities such as race and class, allowing for a range of perspectives. The podcast also keeps listeners up to date on the latest news in the literary world related to women writers.
The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice
As opposed to criticisms, analyses, and discussions, The New Yorker: The Writer’s Voice is a podcast that simply provides a platform for authors to read short works in their own voices. A brief biography introduces each writer before they narrate their piece, every episode almost like a short audiobook. The writer brings their story world to life in sound, allowing a listener to delve deeper into it than the page might have allowed. Perfect for a long commute or a lazy afternoon, the show provides listeners short fiction straight from the horse’s mouth.
The Lonely Palette
Visual art fans will enjoy The Lonely Palette, a show in which the host, Tamar Avishai, approaches visitors in art museums to converse about a selected painting. Apart from professional opinions, this show demonstrates how the more general public understands and interacts with famous works of art. Avishai does a wonderful job of providing the background and history of the piece as well as delving into how the painting makes a viewer feel. Complete with personal anecdotes, philosophical insights, and snippets of academic context, this podcast is a delightful way to dwell on pieces of art and discover the artists behind them.
Instead of focusing on particular pieces of art, ArtCurious is a show that explores the strangest stories in the realm of art history. Jennifer Dasal takes a listener into the world of the past, sharing the biographies of famous artists as well as pivotal moments in their lives. Myths surrounding pieces like the Mona Lisa and painters like Van Gogh are explored, and the eccentricity that seems to follow every artist is examined. Through the course of each tale, the host punctuates the narrative by providing short sketches of relevant works of art. Turning art history into wonderful storytelling, the podcast is both informative and fun.
The Rewatchables is a podcast that provides an outlet for the hosts to gush about films that they deem to be fundamentally “rewatchable,” from hollywood blockbusters to cult classics. Discussions delve deep into the production history of the film, casting, favourite scenes and other details of the movie. Episodes tend to be long, but the excitement that the hosts bring to the conversation keeps it interesting, and indeed, makes a listener want to rewatch the movie in question.
Cine Maya is a Hindi series that explores the role of women in the Indian film industry. Instead of questions of representation in film, the focus of the podcast is on female directors in the industry discussing their art, vision and journey with film. In each of the eight episodes, Swati Bakshi, the host, holds an interview with a female movie director. The guests highlight their work and their lives, bringing their voices to the forefront of the male-dominated world of Indian cinema.
Host Helen Zaltzman consults experts in the field of linguistics and related subjects as she presents this show about all aspects of language. Each brief episode of The Allusionist explores a very specific phenomenon of language in detail; from puns to accents to classic literature, and sometimes even single words. The history, etymology and transformation of different facets of language all feature in the podcast, providing a revelatory perspective on the familiar tool that is language.
Song Exploder show, hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway, features musicians taking apart a single song of theirs, explaining the how-to behind the hit. The artists discuss the whole creative process, from their inspiration to the songwriting, allowing a listener to understand the evolution of a single song. Snippets of the song-in-progress are interspersed between the discussion, and the song is played in its entirety at the end of the episode. Guests include headliner bands as well as smaller indie artists; a range of names in the field of music share their processes, providing a glimpse into the minds behind the melodies.
Maed in India
Closer to home, Maed in India helps a listener keep up with the latest in the Indian indie music scene. The host, Mae Thomas, interviews musicians, discussing everything from their origin story to their latest work. In addition, each weekly episode features a live performance by the guest artist. Thomas’s energy is infectious, making for an entertaining show in which the musicians relate the stories behind their songs and personal anecdotes as well.
Easy to create and free to listen to, podcasts are a great way to educate and entertain yourself, allowing for both active engagement and a more passive listening experience (for those of you who are multitaskers). With such a variety of subjects and such a volume of content, there’s sure to be a podcast that is perfect for you.
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