Here’s a role I never imagined for myself as an academic: Burns popularizer. That link leads to a program produced for our local NPR affiliate about Robert Burns and the enduring popularity of “Auld Lang Syne.” My section is maybe three-quarters of the way through, right after a much more lucid interview with my colleague Lucy Morrison.

I was actually pretty excited to do it. It was fun to get outside my narrow fields of interest (I hesitate to say expertise) and try to think of ways to talk about Burns that might help ordinary readers grapple with his poetry. It was also fun to think that I might help someone enjoy poetry, or, really, anything more enduring than Rock of Love: Charm School—though, to be fair, chances are that Robbie, with his notorious love of the ladyfolk, would’ve appreciated the pulchritudinous appeal of that show. After all, Burns invented the power ballad, didn’t you know? Every red, red rose has its thorn. Or so I’m sentimentally inclined to believe.

Anyway, I decided after listening that I need to work on my radio voice. Too many you knows and other stammerings-about. It might help if next time it wasn’t a phone interview, too. (Just sayin’.) And, though I was trying to stay very general in my comments, if I made any terrible blunders describing the history or influence of Burns, I hereby disavow any involvement. After all, the announcer clearly introduces the speaker as Christopher Vilman.

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