“The Grinnin’ Possum” is a podcast created by Transylvania English professor Maurice Manning. Manning is from Danville, Kentucky, and he claims that his ancestors were some of the earliest settlers of Southeast Kentucky. For that reason, Manning feels he has a deep bond with Kentucky, and he claims that through his podcast, he has broadened his sense of the state. He has a passion for history and seeking the truth, and he integrates that history into his poetry, which serves as the centerpiece of the podcast. Although each poem in each episode is full of history, they also have a silly side, with Manning describing his poems as “humorous, farcical, and outlandish.”
The podcast also focuses on Kentucky folk music, with the main theme of the show having been performed and composed by Manning himself. The locations where the episodes are recorded are also used as instruments. Manning described how he wanted to record his episodes in various settings and to use the sounds of those spaces as an instrument along with his poems. He wanted to give the audience an interactive experience of poetry, something more than just reading the sentences. The podcast visits sites across the state, from the Red River Gorge to the Rock Hill Plantation in Paducah, and Manning integrates the sounds and history of these places into his poetry and music. Manning stated how he’s always wanted to bring art and geography together in this way, but that he couldn’t have done it without his podcast editor Steve Cody. Both Manning and Cody appreciated what the other brought to the table for the podcast to come to life, with Cody working with microphones and sound equipment to make sure they got the best sound from each recording location. Manning described the podcast as his first creative activity that was a truly collaborative effort and said he couldn’t have done it alone.