Listen of the Week: On Being

It’s time for another…

Listen of the week
And this is the week when you discover my ulterior motive – getting to talk poetry on a craft blog… what can I say, it’s *my* blog!

So, if you haven’t discovered it already, the On Being podcast is a rich seam of listening for anyone with an interest in spirituality, creativity, mental health, politics, theology, philosophy and generally trying to live life well. It’s a very wonderful thing, full of riches from a fascinating and diverse range of interviewees, brought to the surface and out onto the airways by the host and founder of On Being, Krista Tippett.

Poets frequently end up in the guest spot, and today I listened to an interview with Elizabeth Alexander, the poet who you might remember wrote the Inaugural Poem for Barack Obama back in 2009. In the On Being episode, Words that Shimmer, Alexander and Tippett discuss the hunger that humans have for poetry, how essential it is to help us get to the truth of our feelings, and how it can cut to the heart of our shared experience and bring a sense of community.

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness
comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

–Rumi, translation by Coleman Barks

Poetry is not a luxury, as Audre Lorde writes, and I know that she is right. And yet I rarely read poems. It feels very hard to do at the end of a long day, it’s easier to pick up a novel and lose myself in a story. But I have found that listening to podcasts like On Being whilst I’m in the studio, or in the kitchen at home, has meant that poetry is sneaking back into my life, making me take a breath, pulling me up short. Here’s a few of my favourites from On Being interviews with other poets, I hope you like them too.

Beannacht – John O’Donohue

The First Time Percy Came Back – Mary Oliver

Thirteen-Year-Old American Negro Girl – Marilyn Nelson

The Peace of Wild Things – Wendell Berry

Do you read or listen to poetry? I’d love to hear about your favourite poets or poetry. I’m also ALWAYS happy to read Podcast recommendations, so feel free to make suggestions.

Sunday Bake: Carrot Loaf Cake

This is my favourite-ever carrot cake recipe, it’s full of delicious flavours and good things, and is not too sweet. Although I love a big round carrot cake with a delicious cream cheese topping, sometimes you want something less fiddly and quicker to make, and perhaps something without a load of extra calories. This recipe is so delicious it absolutely does not need the topping – so I bake it in a loaf tin and enjoy it in slices, fruit loaf style – you don’t even need a plate!

Carrot cake recipe

  • Servings: approx 12 slices
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 175g carrot (this is approximately 2 large carrots)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 70g soft dark brown sugar
  • 75ml rapeseed oil, or other oil (suitable for baking) of your choice
  • 100g self-raising wholemeal flour (or plain wholemeal flour with 1 tsp baking powder added)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 50g desiccated coconut (or 50g of ground almonds if you are baking for coconut-haters)
  • 75g raisins

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 190C (180C fan) or gas mark 5 and line a 1lb loaf tin (a rectangular loaf tin approx 19cm x 12 cm x 6.5cm) with baking parchment.
  2. Scrub (and peel if they are older carrots) then finely grate the carrots.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until they are very thick and creamy.
  4. Whisk in the oil, pouring it slowly in a thin stream.
  5. Add all the remaining ingredients and stir until evenly combined.
  6. Put the mixture into the prepared tin and bake until golden brown on the top and firm to the touch. This takes about 35 minutes – check after 30, and if the cake still seems a little gooey to the touch but quite brown on top, cover with foil and bake for 5-10 minutes more.
  7. Take out of the tin immediately and leave on a wire rack to cool.

The cake will keep in a air-tight container for about 3 days.

Carrot loaf cake recipe

Pretty simple, I am sure you will agree. Do let me know if you give it a try, I’d love to hear how you get on with it.

 

Listen of the week – words to stitch along to

I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I love to listen to live radio and to Podcasts whilst I sew/quilt/muck about in my studio pretending to work. And I know that there are lots of you who like to do the same (or binge on Netflix of course..!), so I’ve decided to do a regular series on my unmissable listens.

Listen of the week podcasts for crafting along to

I’ll be sharing some of my favourite Podcast episodes and TED talks every Tuesday – hopefully inspiring you to check them out too.

I warn you (but maybe that should be a promise!) that it’s going to be an eclectic mix – but I am sure that’s a good thing, because my readers are a varied bunch, and everyone will find something to like. The topics I tend to search out for are creativity, craft, mental health, spirituality, philosophy, but I also love wonderful stories of all kinds – so if you have your own recommendations for me, please leave a comment.

First up is my all-time favourite episode (so far, although there is close competition) of probably one of the best-known Podcasts out there, This American Life: One Last Thing Before I Go

The Wind Phone in Otsuchi, Japan, subject of the first act of One Last Thing Before I Go (photo from The National Post).

It’s probably crazy to start with such an excellent piece of radio, because it might all be downhill from here, but I really want to give you the Podcast bug, so best to start big, I thought!

I’m a bit stuck though, because I don’t want to say too much about it (Spoilers) – but I can say this: both stories within the episode are deeply moving, thought-provoking and incredibly well-told. They speak (in VERY different ways, and that the contrast is part of the success of the episode) of the human struggle to communicate, to express our feelings, our inadequacy, our bravery, our weakness and our resilience in the face of loss and death.

If you’ve never listened to a Podcast before, you can just listen to it on your browser, or download it for later, or use a Podcast app.

Hope you enjoy it – I’d love to hear what you think.