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Several interviews had to get shifted around and I wanted to try something new! There is no guest this week so I drew inspiration from the lockdown and from news stories that captured my attention over the past several days. I found stories and in several cases, audio to match. I do need to note that all the audio I’m sharing today is public domain, which means it is available for usage without breaking any copyright rules.  I took a deep dive into several public domain and archive websites and discovered an overwhelming amount of amazing audio, videos, photographs, and documents.

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The recent story of the Pentagon releasing UFO footage captured my imagination this week! UFO footage has been circulating for some time but an official release makes it all that more intriguing. All of the UFO coverage got me thinking about the vastness of the universe and how much we have yet to know about it.  With NASA getting ready for their next big launch on May 27th, I started looking for sound from NASA and came across some amazing audio files on the Internet Archive. 

The Internet Archive is home to thousands of files and I found clips of two Apollo missions to share with you today. The clips are short in length but there are hundreds of hours available.  This first one is from Apollo 11 which was the spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin formed the American crew that landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969.

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Next, let’s talk about literature. I’ve been catching up on my reading and finally got around to exploring new poetry. I came across the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks. Gwendolyn Brooks was the first black author to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize. She was also the first black woman to be a poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. She pulled from her life and the injustices happening during the civil rights era for her art. I was able to find audio of her reading but it was copyrighted. So I decided to read one of her short but powerful poems titled We Real Cool. Click on the link above for audio. Here is a link to more audio from the Library of Congress. 

Please read about her here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/gwendolyn-brooks

We Real Cool 

Launch Audio in a New Window
BY GWENDOLYN BROOKS

 The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.

We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.

Here is link to where you can read an analysis of this poem: https://owlcation.com/humanities/Analysis-of-Poem-We-Real-Cool-by-Gwendolyn-Brooks

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One of the nicer things about being on lockdown has been all of the wonderful online cultural programmings. Many cultural institutions have held wonderful programming for free. As an opera fan, I searched for some performances online and came across an article in the NY times called 5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Opera.  That’s a bold heading.  The Times asked Patti Smith, John Turturro, Renée Fleming and others to pick the music that moves them. One of the pieces I loved was the one Patti Smith selected which is Puccini’s “Tosca”. “E lucevan le stelle” is a romantic aria from the third act. This is a great overview of the opera. 

Here is the link where the link came from: https://www.yourclassical.org/story/2019/02/07/daily-download-giacomo-puccini–tosca-e-lucevan-le-stelle

Did this article convert you into an opera lover? Did you already love opera? Let me know in a comment below.

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If you miss traveling as much as I do, then this next poem will resonate with you. I could not find a public domain version so I read the poem instead.

 

Vacation

Rita Dove – 1952-

 

I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete, one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.

Rita Dove was the US Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995 and as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 2005 to 2011. You can read more about her here and you can hear her read her other pieces here.

BONUS

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost is one of my all-time favorite poems. You can listen to a reading of that here.

The Road Not Taken

BY ROBERT FROST

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.