I was making my way across town. Town being Vancouver, BC. We have to say that as there’s another one, a perfectly pleasant American one, its pleasantness being its proximity to Vancouver, BC. I was to be the guest on World Poetry Café, an unassuming FM radio program with a shockingly large listenership – one-hundred-thirty-three countries, at last count. When I arrived at the station, Victor, the venerable sound man, said in a Barry White basso profundo, “We just got Sweden. And another one of the Yugoslav countries.” Making me realize I’d stumbled into a life-size game of Risk. Peaceful, radio Risk. Somewhere overhead an unseen entity was sliding game-pieces across countries and continents as we settled into squeaky chairs, popped headsets on, and silently set notes under swivel-arm mics.
This is a co-op radio program that two-thirds of the nations on the planet tune into. The skeptic in me – not the glass half-full/half-empty guy, but the one knowing full well the glass is too damn big, questioned the record keepers. I suppose if we had a listener in each country that would, in fact, be accurate. My Austrian friend Evelyn once said at a UK Lit Fest, “I’ve told you a million times, don’t exaggerate!” So I kept doubts close to my chest and made a note to let Evelyn know I’d be quoting her. And if we didn’t end up connecting, the quote would become my own. Obviously.
I visited with co-host Doctor Diego, liking him immediately. Not only because his name could be that of an Omar Sharif persona, and not because he’s fluent in every romance language (the relevant ones) but mostly because he’s a kind individual who made me feel welcome and asked questions, something I often find lacking. I wonder why that is, but I can’t be bothered to ask.We chatted about travel, poetry, prose, and all the stuff you’d love to talk about at a cocktail party if you didn’t have the courteous obligation of asking some idiot about themselves. Regardless. We got on well. Host Ariadne did her thing and the show proceeded smoothly, as all long-lived shows do. I had fun, sharing space with skilled people. I snapped photos for social media that I could lie about afterward. In other words, it was an excellent afternoon for an entrepreneurial artist saying yes to every next thing.
What I liked most about this was its timeliness. National Poetry Month is just around the corner and we were on the cusp of World Poetry Day – bridging nations and shrinking the world in what may be our purest language. With callers that day from Africa, Asia, and North America, and listeners on every continent, I had the extreme privilege of experiencing it firsthand. Each of us in the sound booth agreed while music played, and mics were off. Forget delineating languages of arbitrarily drawn borders. What we were sharing was rich, articulate pidgin – a global populace finding commonality. Communicating. We do it with music. We do it with food. With dance and laughter and love. But perhaps more than anything, we do it collectively, with poetry.
World Poetry Day is March 21, 2020 and April is National Poetry Month. #NPM2020
Bill Arnott is the bestselling author of Gone Viking: A Travel Saga, Dromomania, Allan’s Wishes, and Wonderful Magical Words. His Indie Folk CD is Studio 6. Bill’s work is published in literary journals, magazines and anthologies around the globe. He’s received songwriting and poetry prizes and is a Whistler Independent Book Awards 2019 Finalist with Gone Viking: A Travel Saga. Visit Bill @billarnott_aps and https://www.amazon.com/author/billarnott_aps