Poetic Source with Richard Simmons: Podcasts as Poetic Source

Lately I’ve been trying to control my anxiety with podcasts and it’s been very helpful. It’s like this friend buzzing in your ear but you control the buzz, whenever you need it, you can turn it back on. Apart from them helping me feel less lonely at times, I started thinking about how podcasts are also really helpful poetic sources. The podcast I’ve been addicted to has been Missing Richard Simmons because it is this careful excavation of a character and who he has been to his close friends and people who don’t even know him. To give you context without spoilers, I will say the podcast is about Richard Simmon’s decision to withdraw from society as a weight loss icon. It’s interesting because the podcast has really moved me to check in on my own emotional health and put myself first in a complicated time in my life.

Looking at the above pictures, I don’t know how anyone couldn’t automatically love Richard (or at least intrigued at his life story), a boisterous and colorful personality which has been known for being an extremely complicated and empathetic person. I love it. I can’t express to you guys how much I love him. But this is why he’s a good source for me. I’ve been listening to interview clips with him and people he knows, intently learning about a character sketch that has been put together through multimedia, letters, videos, personal accounts, hearsay, his own words and many more. This is wonderful because there are all these different kinds of rhetoric and opinions and it’s almost overwhelming what kinds of poems I could write about Richard. I could write a found poem from all the interviews with people he’s helped aiming it to help a reader understand how he most likely over exerted himself, or I could write a personal poem about the impact his story has had on me or many other kinds of poems. It’s endless. So here I am recommending that you go and find a podcast you love or share your favorites  with us! It’s “share a podcast month” anyway. Podcasts are wonderful because they usually have an aesthetic which can be parallel to yours or something new, they have a defined voice with very open opinions and intent, they have a focused subject matter oftentimes opening you up to things you thought you would have never cared about (I never thought I would be thinking endlessly about Richard Simmons, but here I am writing a letter to him and writing this blog post), and podcasts aren’t hard to access, you don’t even have to read them. I think they are also incredible for stimulating an obsession when we feel like we have over exerted our ability to obsess over something enough to write about it. Feel free to talk about your fave podcasts in the comments and how they help you write! <3

At the very least, know that wherever Richard is, he most likely believes in you and your ability to succeed. <3

2 Replies to “Poetic Source with Richard Simmons: Podcasts as Poetic Source”

  1. Hi Gabi!!! I love this post!! I really like how you justify this person as your source simply because you cannot express your love for him. That’s such a simple way to say it, but it really says a lot. And I feel similar about Virginia Woolf.

    I love that podcasts are good company to you. They definitely are like friends you can choose when you want them to rant in your ear. And when you do want them to, it’s a nice way to immerse yourself in something you care about, are interested in, and–in your case, inspires you to write!

    I totally feel your desire to forge a character sketch of Richard Simmons for yourself, wanting a genuine, wholesome picture of him and not one based off the perspectives of one person or one other media source. Interviews, for me, are my fave for getting more info for those I want a character sketch of (people who fascinate me) because you get a feel for their tone of voice & body language too, and can hear when the person pauses or hesitates. I’ve been motivated to do similar research with Virginia Woolf, and have recently turned towards her close friends and contemporaries and reading all they’ve had to say about her. So I definitely get the motivation there, and this post and our conversations about podcasts & Woolf & Bowie have honestly justified me using someone else as a source.

    I, too, feel overwhelmed with the amount of poems I could write to, about, and for Virginia. But I haven’t drafted one yet. I think I am scared I don’t have the agency to say things about someone who is deceased and can’t defend themselves. But, in another vein, I’m returning agency to her voice, and portraying the light side of her that no one has everrrrrr focused on, other than to say she was beautiful or intelligent. Character goes way deeper than that, and as you’ve shown us in this post, Gabi, there are many different sides to a person you can come to know, and your perspective on them can take many angles. I’ve been trying to capture all of those angles and create a holistic image of Woolf, flaws and all.

    I’m really excited about Simmons as a poetic source for you, Gabi! I definitely can’t wait for that found poem.

    Keep writing & podcasting!!

    xoxo Juliet

  2. I love the idea of using Richard Simmons as a poetic source, in part because it sounds sort of strange and humorous at first, but the work you want to (or will) produce doesn’t have to be limited in that way. A wealth of work could be created on any person. As you said, there’s so many facets to everyone that can be integrated into a poem. There’s Richard Simmons the weight loss guru, Richard Simmons the person, the friend, the owner of a very cute dog…and all of them are unique and interesting in their own ways. I generally don’t think about the specifics of a person when I write poetry as I tend to focus on feelings or settings. This made me want to write about a specific character, though, so thank you!
    Also, as far as podcasts go I’m pretty basic. I don’t get the chance to listen to them as much as I would like to. I don’t really like to do something while I’m listening to a show, which is weird because I don’t mind background music. Eh. I started out with things like This American Life, Snap Judgement, gradually adding in Fresh Air, Modern Love (from the New York Times column), Tell Me Something I Don’t Know, and MBMBAM.

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