In Their Own Words

There’s something really special about hearing a writer read their own work. This is especially so when it doesn’t happen often, or when the writer is no longer with us, and there will be no more words. Today, I spent some time looking around on the internet to find some of my favorite spoken work pieces by the authors who wrote them. Some are pretty common (such as Ginsberg reading his work) and others are more rare (Samuel Beckett, for example, was almost never in front of a camera).

First is Allen Ginsberg, reading his famous poem “Howl.” Ginsberg was a poet I loved greatly when I was growing up, and I’ve never quite gotten over how much I loved him at 17.

Next up is Leonard Cohen reading from his second novel (and my favorite book ever) Beautiful Losers. The scene is written by a character in a mental hospital, dying of syphilis.

Third we have Samuel Beckett, reading from his book Watt. Beckett, as I said, was really notoriously camera shy, so this one is kind of a treat.

Though I hated Ulysses, I thought Finnegan’s Wake was beautiful, if indecipherable (I guess I just like to grab it off the shelf and read a line here or there like poetry). Anyway, James Joyce’s reading is no more decipherable than reading from the book yourself, but it’s still pretty lovely.


About thebaffledkingcomposing

Pamela DiFrancesco is a writer with a community college degree in journalism, a fancy art school degree in fiction and a penchant for community organizing. A native of Pennsylvania coal country, Pamela lives in Astoria, Queens, writes, and does whatever else it takes to pay the bills. In the past, Pamela has worked for newspapers and taught children journalism in an after-school program. Pamela's fiction can be found on the web at Cezanne's Carrot and Monkeybicycle, in print in The Carolina Quarterly (who nominated "The Chuck Berry Tape Massacre" for the Best American Mystery Writing anthology) and forthcoming in The New Ohio Review. When not writing, Pamela practices acts of love and kindness in hopes of a radically different world, and is preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse through acts of badassery.
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