Engaging The Word
Literature and Intelligent Conversation
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And So It Begins

Engaging The Word began as an idea a little over one year ago. I had been volunteering at CHRY 105.5FM in Toronto for about two years at that point, and my contribution to the station, beyond filling in once and a while during those listener heavy hours of 2am - 5am, was mostly with the literary show "Covered & Bound." "Covered & Bound" was quite a sweet deal (still is), and I fell in love with it right away. I mean, seriously, a gig where I get all these great books, and I get to meet the writers who slaved over them? Well obviously it was worth doing. So out I went with a little Minidisc Recorder, a couple of cables, and a big old microphone, all of which was lent out by the day from the station. I would cart this stuff along with me, and after sitting down in the august presence of the writers I would meet, I would pass that clunky microphone between myself and whomever I was talking to. Them was fun times.

Well I kept this up, getting more and more interviews under my belt, and soon I had to purchase all my own equipment as the number of writers I was meeting meant that nobody else at CHRY was getting access to the shared equipment. With my own equipment, I also had the ability to control the content, and after discussing it all with the station management, the idea for Engaging The Word was born.

Engaging The Word came to mind after I spent a great deal of time mulling over something that kept sticking in my mind. I realized long ago that I didn't like reviews. because, well, I'm really too arrogant to care about who liked what for what reason. Did not matter to me at all. In fact, I often found reviews to be generally tiresome, longwinded, and full assininity past the n-th extreme. I have rarely ever read a review that helped me come to understand the underlying metaphors of a text, or which have opened my eyes to the particular dynamics of an author's writing practice. In short, reviews were pretty darn unhelpful. What I wanted was an engagement with literature, a tackling of the written word. You know, the kind of thing you usually only get by paying $1000 and up for a fourth year University seminar course. With that in mind, Engaging The Word began.

I meet with literally hundreds of writers every year, from the big to the small, and we always have the most illuminating chats. Sometimes we'll do a live on-air interview in person, or over the phone, and sometimes I'll travel to meet them. Unfortunately I have no access to all those live interviews (intellectual property issues, etc), but I can offer all the audio which I have personally recorded and produced, on my own. Here for you, in every issue of ETW, will be select interviews of various authors in mp3 format, all of which are free for anyone to download and listen to. It is my hope that you will read these articles, and listen to these interviews, and keep all that in mind when reading the works of these authors. I want you to make an engagement with the word a part of your own reading practice. And if you have any notions you can pen in an essay form, please do so and send it my way. I hope to make ETW like that little used bookstore/coffee shop that everyone goes to, just so they can sit down and spend the day in a place purely of the mind.

- James O'Hearn