We launched The Mark Steyn Club just a few weeks ago, and I'm immensely heartened by all the longtime SteynOnline regulars - from Cleveland to the Cook Islands, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Hungary to Hong Kong - who've signed up to be a part of it. As I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone - all my columns, audio interviews, video content, all our movie features and songs of the week. None of it's going behind a paywall, because I want it out there in the world, being read and heard and viewed, and maybe changing an occasional mind somewhere along the way. The point of The Mark Steyn Club is to come up with a way to keep funding some of the more logistically complex and labor-intensive stuff, like my interview with the doughty Douglas Murray, or the live show from Ottawa. So I thank those longtime readers, listeners and viewers who've volunteered to be part of that.
That said, we are introducing a few bonuses for our Club Members - not locking up our regular content, which will always be free, but admitting members to a few experimental features, such as today's new video divertissement. This latest innovation features some classic poetry I've mentioned in my books and columns over the years - verse that speaks to our own age as much as the poet's own. As I said in May when we introduced our audio adventure Tales for Our Time, if it turns out a total stinkeroo, we shall never speak of it again. But, if it avoids stinkeroo status, we may put it on DVD or some digital download format at Amazon. So bear with us, because it's a work in progress.
I thought an ongoing weekend poetry anthology might be a useful addition to the SteynOnline line-up, in part because, if it turns out that poetry on TV is where the big bucks are, I'll look like a genius. And, if that's not the case, then more modestly I'd like to do my bit to keep some of this stuff in circulation. As you might have noticed from recent asides in print, on radio and on TV, I'm concerned about the loss, in the broadest sense, of our cultural inheritance - the once widely recognized allusions that fewer and fewer people know. I never thought I had a spectacular education, but by the time I was a teenager I had more lines of English verse bobbing around in my head than my own kids. And I think that's a loss for all of us - as Ray Bradbury understood when he chose today's poem for a critical moment in Fahrenheit 451. It's Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold.
Arnold's short poem is a famous piece that helped clarify my thoughts at a critical moment in America Alone, and I've quoted it on other occasions since. In today's episode I'll explain why. It's a great poem, and a fine place to start our video anthology. To watch it (or hear it), prefaced by my introduction, please click here and log-in.
Membership in The Mark Steyn Club does come with some non-poetic benefits, including:
~Our nightly radio serial Tales for Our Time, the third of which starts later this month and is an absolute corker ;
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The opportunity to engage in live Q&A sessions with yours truly;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, SteynPosts, and other video content, including today's poem;
~My new quarterly newsletter The Clubbable Steyn, the first issue of which ships very shortly;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and the chance to support our print, audio and video ventures as they wing their way around the planet.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here.
One other benefit to Club Membership is our Comment Club privileges. So, if you like or dislike this brand new feature, or consider my poem reading a bust, then feel free to comment away below. I weigh in on the comment threads myself from time to time, but sparingly - because it's mainly your turf, so have at it (in verse, if you wish).