I discovered Kelly's Writer's House and PennSound as part of my enrollment on a MOOC in Modern and Contemporary Poetry
) provided by PENN. My experience was revelatory; here was and is a mature and multi-faceted teaching approach to poetry as literary form.
Some of the work involved in the ModPo Coursera occurs in real time, once enrolled the archives and audiobanks are always accessible to the student. The PENNSound and Jacket2 archives are not by any means limited to this Coursera, they are available online, and a real trove for the writer.
While discussion on MOOCs is often mired in controversy, participating in ModPo showed me how poetry can be explored and taught using existent archive materials, how its reading is a continuing joy for me, and how audio archiving is invaluable to the study of poetry.
There is a PENN ModPo
starting again soon, I recommmend it to those who want to see how online book groups, discussion forums, and use of already established audiobanks can reduce the narrow and conservative view of poetry promulgated by a media that seems up its own arse when it comes to review and dissemination of literary works.
In short, I recommend that those Irish editors who sit on our poetry archives and who have not thought to create an Irish audiobank, get in touch with ModPo and study how to teach and disseminate our literary heritage in a manner that cracks open poetry as form. Our archives have limited accessibility and we do not have a national poetry audiobank. In Ireland we do have the teaching materials and expertise, though doubtless hosting a MOOC on Irish Poetry would involve a steep learning curve. I suppose that the issue here is approach.
Is there a lack of generosity in how we view the teaching of poetics in Ireland ?
Or is there simply a lack of will that refuses to open up and share Irish poetry's rich heritage beyond the university campus, the narrow prevalence of the anthology periphery, and the occasional socially funded soapbox derby like Culture Night ?
I am unsure of answers to the above but I feel we are doing a disservice to a huge part of Irish cultural history, this requires remedy before poetry becomes a pastime, a toy-strewn sandbox based in a few limited reviews in media, and the production of the odd tourist-driven anthology.