Cover image of Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People)

Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People)

Updated about 22 hours ago

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Intimate and compelling interviews by Rachel Zucker with poets and other artists. Become a Patron & support our growing podcast!

Read more

Intimate and compelling interviews by Rachel Zucker with poets and other artists. Become a Patron & support our growing podcast!

iTunes Ratings

125 Ratings
Average Ratings

Great Conversations

By Daveiii - Sep 14 2019
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Rachel does more than interviews. She brings a level of openness to each conversation that’s admirable and aspirable. She has thoughtful questions which lead to great discussions. Plus my cat likes the pod


By yaddyrap - Jan 31 2018
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Nuanced complex conversations about all aspects of poetry and LIFE. Well done!

iTunes Ratings

125 Ratings
Average Ratings

Great Conversations

By Daveiii - Sep 14 2019
Read more
Rachel does more than interviews. She brings a level of openness to each conversation that’s admirable and aspirable. She has thoughtful questions which lead to great discussions. Plus my cat likes the pod


By yaddyrap - Jan 31 2018
Read more
Nuanced complex conversations about all aspects of poetry and LIFE. Well done!

Listen to:

Cover image of Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People)

Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People)

Updated about 22 hours ago

Read more

Intimate and compelling interviews by Rachel Zucker with poets and other artists. Become a Patron & support our growing podcast!

Rank #1: Episode 4: Claudia Rankine

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Award winning poet, playwright, professor, editor, essayist, and critic Claudia Rankine speaks with Rachel Zucker about collaboration, poetry’s role in social change, and the investigation of feeling. In this episode, Rankine discusses the importance of ideas put forward by writers such as James Baldwin and Adrienne Rich, the known unknown, the arena of consciousness, being a spectator, willed ignorance, and the illusion of difficulty in poetry.


Jul 15 2016



Rank #2: Episode 72: Ilya Kaminsky

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Books by Ilya Kaminsky

Poetry Collections:

Deaf Republic (Graywolf, 2019)

Dancing in Odessa (Tupelo Press, 2004)


The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (co-editors Susan Harris, Ecco, 2010)

In the Shape of a Human I Am Visiting the Earth: Poems from Far and Wide (co-editors Dominic Luxford and Jesse Nathan, McSweeney’s, 2017)

Gossip and Metaphysics: Russian Modernist Poems and Prose (co-editors Katie Farris and Valzhyna Mort, Tupelo Press, 2014)

A God in the House: Poets Talk about Faith, (co-editor Katherine Towler, Tupelo Press, 2012)


Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva (with Jean Valentine, Alice James, 2012)

This Lamentable City by Polina Barskova (Tupelo Press, 2010)

If I Were Born in Prague: Poems of Guy Jean (with Katie Farris, Argos Press, 2011)

Other Books and Writers Featured in the Episode

Isaac Babel

Leslie Scalapino



Anna Akhmatova

Czeslaw Milosz

Tomas Tranströmer

Other Relevant Links

“Searching for a Lost Odessa — and a Deaf Childhood” published in the New York Times, Aug. 9, 2018

Ilya reads “Search Patrols” for the Poetry Foundation

Interview with Ilya in the Adirondack Review

Polish poet Adam Zagajewski talks to American translator Clare Cavanaugh and Ilya Kaminsky about contemporary Polish poetry, for the Poetry Foundation


Jul 25 2019

1hr 50mins


Rank #3: Episode 18: Terrance Hayes

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Host Rachel Zucker talks with award-winning poet Terrance Hayes about Terrance’s new work, living in New York City, the election, teaching workshop, painting, sharing work with peers, not wanting help, provocation, offensive language, the role of audience, and staying true to oneself. Terrance reads a selection of new poems all titled “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin” to start the conversation.


Books by Terrance Hayes

How to Be Drawn (Penguin, 2015)

Lighthead (Penguin, 2010)

Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006)

Muscular Music (Re-printed by Carnegie Mellon, 2006)

Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002)

Other Writers, Artists and Musicians Mentioned in the Episode

Yona Harvey

Lynn Emanuel

Amiri Baraka

Patricia Smith

Dean Young

Gertrude Stein

Eddie Murphy

Young Thug

Other Relevant Links

Cave Canem

Jan 20 2017

2hr 2mins


Rank #4: Episode 52: Richard Siken

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Host Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Richard Siken, author of Crush and War of the Foxes and publisher and poetry editor at Spork Press. They talk about his current five-book project, the restrictions he uses in each book during its composition, how these restrictions can help him avoid repetition, strategies inherent in poetry, rhetoric and discourse, Siken's rules for editing, not naming names, the idea and (f)utility of art therapy, teaching, the job market, the logistics and economics of for-profit-publishing, and family.

Extra Materials for Episode 52

Books by Richard Siken

Crush (Yale University Press, 2005)

War of the Foxes (Copper Canyon, 2015)

Other Writers and Books Mentioned in the Episode

Paul Legault

Dorothy Chan

Dalton Day

Kathleen Rooney

Gary J. Shipley

Abraham Smith

Scott McWaters

Other Relevant Links

John Cage

Dennis Cooper’s George Miles Cycle

Gertrude Stein

Drew Burk

May 23 2018

1hr 38mins


Rank #5: Episode 37: Sheila Heti and Sarah Manguso

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Rachel Zucker talks with Sheila Heti and Sarah Manguso about literary friendship, Sarah’s two recent books, Sheila’s manuscript in progress, maternal ambivalence, uncertainty, sacrifice of self, envy, curiosity, being a daughter, attachment and unattachment, shame, the sickening state of wondering whether or not to have children, abandonment, money, the things we cannot choose, choosing intolerable feelings, whiteness, class, the poetics of motherhood, purity, polluted writing, and motherhood as a sexuality category.


Books by Sheila Heti

Motherhood (Henry Holt & Co., 2018)

All Our Happy Days Are Stupid (McSweeney’s Publishing, 2015)

Women in Clothes (Blue Rider Press, 2014), edited with Heidi Julavits and Leanna Shapton

The Middle Stories (McSweeney’s Publishing, 2012)

How Should a Person Be? (Henry Holt & Co., 2012)

We Need A Horse (Mcsweeney’s McMullens, 2011)

The Chairs Are Where the People Go (FSG, 2011)

Ticknor (FSG, 2006)

Books by Sarah Manguso


300 Arguments (Graywolf, 2017)

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (Graywolf, 2015)

The Guardians: An Elegy (FSG, 2012)

The Two Kinds of Decay (FSG, 2008)

Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape (McSweeney's Books, 2007)


Siste Viator (Four Way Books, 2006)

The Captain Lands in Paradise (Alice James Books, 2002)

Other Books, Writers & Artists Mentioned in the Episode

Molly Peacock

Amanda Stern


David Lehman

Cynthia Ozick

Carmen Giménez Smith

Eula Biss

Annie Dillard

Maggie Nelson

Heidi Julavits

Carrot Top by Jules Renard (FSG, 1975)

Paradise, Piece by Piece by Molly Peacock (Riverhead, 1998)

100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl (FSG, 2015)

Museum of Accidents by Rachel Zucker (Wave Books, 2009)

Other Relevant Links

Sheila Heti interviews Wayne Koestenbaum, Matthew Rohrer & Rachel Zucker for The Believer

Conversation between Rachel and Sarah about motherhood in Candor Magazine

Video of Rachel giving birth to her son Judah

Sarah Manguso’s essay, The Great Shattering, in Harper’s Magazine

from A Kentucky of Mothers by Dana Ward

Sep 19 2017

2hr 16mins


Rank #6: Episode 40: Kaveh Akbar

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Rachel Zucker speaks with Kaveh Akbar about his first full-length poetry collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf. They talk about recovery, addiction, Ellen Bryant Voigt’s unpunctuated line, teaching, his writing process for poetry or prose, the hutzpah and/or cluelessness that enabled him to reach out to established poets, the founding and process of running (Kaveh’s interview site), the art of interviewing, using poetry to press the pleasure button, social media, white poets writing about whiteness, writing to delight, writing with compassion, his poem “Heritage” (about Reyhaneh Jabbari), the potential violence of erasure poems, and the intersection of power and poetry.


Books by Kaveh Akbar

Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James, 2017)

Portrait of the Alcoholic (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Ellen Bryant Voigt’s Headwaters (W.W. Norton, 2014)

The Rag-Picker's Guide to Poetry: Poems, Poets, Process (University of Michigan Press, 2013)

Robert Olen Butler’s Severance (Chronicle Books, 2008)

Lauren Oliver’s ROOMS (Ecco, 2015)

Tom Phillips’ A Humument (Thames and Hudson, 2017)

Charles Reznikoff’s Testimony (Black Sparrow Press, 2015)

Lauren Whitehead

Ross Gay

WS Merwin

Jean Valentine

Li-Young Lee

Jorie Graham

Lucille Clifton

Lucie Brock-Broido

Zbigniew Herbert

Chris Forhan

Dan Barden

Yusef Komunyakaa

Franz Wright

Robert Bly

Afaa Michael Weaver

Dorianne Laux

Fady Joudah

Sharon Olds

Philip Metres

Ilya Kaminsky

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Jake Adam York

Adrian Matejka

John Berryman

Robert Lowell

Bob Hicok

Tarfia Faizullah

Solmaz Sharif

Robin Coste Lewis

Major Jackson “A Mystifying Silence: Big and Black”

Other Relevant Materials

Paige Lewis

Butler University MFA

The Quirk

All Up in Your Ears (Jonathan Farmer, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, francine j. Harris and Kaveh Akbar)

Poets House

Sarah Miller Freehauf

Kaveh writing about his poem “Heritage” on Poetry Society

Transcription of the final voice message of Reyhaneh Jabbari

Kenneth Goldsmith

Vanessa Place

Eula Biss talking about opportunity hoarding on the podcast The Longest Shortest Time

Sandra Bland

Nov 02 2017

2hr 24mins


Rank #7: Episode 23: Morgan Parker

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Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Morgan Parker (author of Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night and There are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé) in front of a LIVE audience at the KGB Red Room on February 27, 2017. Morgan reads new work, discusses what she’s working on, who she’s writing for, and her 13 husbands. They talk about confessional poetry, performance, blackness, whiteness, therapy, Beyoncé, authenticity,  revision, therapy as reparations, and Nelly.


Books by Morgan Parker

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce (Tin House, 2017)

Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback, 2015)

Other Books/Writers/Thinkers/Musicians Mentioned


Julie Buntin

Rachel McKibbens

Lizzie Harris

Angel Nafis

Monica McClure

Nate Marshall

Mickalene Thomas

Matthew Dickman

D.A. Powell

Christine Larusso

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Other Relevant Links

“How to Stay Sane While Black” by Morgan Parker, published by the New York Times

Mar 15 2017

2hr 2mins


Rank #8: Episode 26: Alice Notley

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Host Rachel Zucker speaks with one of her most important influences and inspirations, author of more than 40 books, poet Alice Notley. They talk about a recent reading that Notley gave with Eileen Myles and Sonia Sanchez that Zucker attended, Notley’s reading and poetic styles, and how Zucker came to Notley’s work. They also discuss writing an epic, suffering, writing about family, writing through pain, communication with the dead, how Notley represents her deceased brother, poetry as the public communication of the dead, money, poverty, survivor's benefits, working for Allen Ginsberg, the dearth of women (particularly women with children) in poetry, the shock and shame of postpartum depression, self-hypnosis, the unconscious, the tyrant, Trump, fascism, the desert, and growing up in a small town.


Books by Alice Notley

Certain Magical Acts (Penguin, 2016)

Benediction (Letter Machine Editions, 2015)

Culture of One (Penguin, 2011)

Songs and Stories of the Ghouls (Wesleyan Poetry Series, 2011)

Culture of One (Penguin, 2011)

Reason and Other Women (Chax Press, 2010)

Grave of Light (Wesleyan University Press, 2008)

In the Pines (Penguin, 2007)

Alma, or The Dead Women (Granary Books, 2006)

Coming After: Essays on Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2005)

Disobedience (Penguin, 2001)

Mysteries of Small Houses (Penguin, 1998)

The Descent of Alette (Penguin, 1996)

Closer to Me & Closer…(The Language of Heaven) & Desamere (O Books, 1995)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Alice Quinn

Eileen Myles

Sonia Sanchez

Bob Creeley

Rachel Zucker’s MOTHERs (Counterpath, 2013)

Diane Wolkstein’s Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth (Harper, 1983)

A Curriculum of the Soul by Jack Clarke and Al Glover (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing)

Joanne Kyger

Samuel Noah Kramer

Kenneth Koch

Allen Ginsberg

Bob Rosenthal

Ted Berrigan

Philip Whalen

Edwin Denby

Anselm Berrigan

Eddie Berrigan

Bob Holman

Sylvia Plath

Jack Kerouac

Other Relevant Links

Bob Wilson

Apr 18 2017

1hr 46mins


Rank #9: Episode 57: Dorothea Lasky

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Rachel Zucker speaks with poet and educator Dorothea Lasky about the volume and quality of her voice, the game Kill, Marry, Fuck, rules, craft, associational thinking, obsession as a vital part of learning and creativity, preschool pedagogy, the penultimate part of poems, being only-children, witnessing one’s own life, Albert Einstein, not going to medical school, getting degrees in Education, the movie The Shining, motherhood, misogyny, Lasky’s essay “Why I am Sad,” a difficult interpersonal interaction between Rachel and Dorothea, feeling that one’s narrative is outside of motherhood, writing to the future, Lasky’s lectures and dissertation, small “c” creativity and much more.


Books by Dottie Lasky

Milk (Wave, 2018)

Rome (Liveright, 2016)

Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry (With Jesse Nathan, McSweeney’s 2013)

Thunderbird (Wave, 2012)

Black Life (Wave, 2010)

Awe (Wave, 2007)

Matter: A Picturebook (Argos, 2012)

Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Sheila Heti’s Motherhood (Henry Holt, 2018)

Brenda Shaughnessy’s Our Andromeda (Copper Canyon, 2012)

Joshua Beckman

Bernadette Mayer

Alice Notley

Other Relevant Links


Heidi Broadhead

Carlina Rinaldi and Reggio Emilia  

Steven Seidel and Shari Tishman at Harvard Graduate School of Education

The Shining

Woman Writer and Writer Mother: A Conversation Between Sarah Manguso and Rachel Zucker (published by Candor Magazine)

Aug 15 2018

1hr 36mins


Rank #10: Episode 7: Cathy Park Hong

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Rachel Zucker speaks with Cathy Park Hong, author of three books of poetry, professor at Sarah Lawrence, and recipient of the NEA, NYFA and Fulbright fellowships. They discuss how motherhood can change one’s poetic aesthetic, the limitations of poetry and prose, the intersections of poetry and politics, and the new phenomenon of “viral poems.” Cathy Park Hong shares her thoughts on why she uses persona and shifting pronouns in her poetry, and how writing nonfiction allows her to be more personal. Their conversation explores both poets’ optimism about and frustration with poetry.



Cathy Park Hong’s books:

Translating Mo’Um (Hanging Loose Press, 2002)

Dance Dance Revolution (W.W. Norton, 2008)

Engine Empire (W.W. Norton, 2013)

She also appeared in the Gurlesque anthology.

Here’s a video of her reading her poem “Get Away From it All”

Other writing by Cathy Park Hong

Delusions of Whiteness in the Avant-Garde”: an essay published in Lana Turner

“There’s a New Movement in American Poetry and It’s Not Kenneth Goldsmith”: an essay published in The New Republic

Memories and Thoughts on Adrienne Rich”: an essay in Harriet

Forecasts, a poem/video project produced for Triple Canopy, in collaboration with Adam Shecter

The Rub, a project produced for the New Museum in collaboration with Mores McWreath

Books and essays mentioned in this episode

The Gold Star Awards”: a statement by The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo in Harriet

We Need Diverse Diverse Books”: an essay by Matthew Salesses in LitHub

The Rejection of Closure”: a talk by Lyn Hejinian, transcribed and published by the Poetry Foundation

The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich (W.W. Norton, 2013)

Look by Solmaz Sharif (Graywolf, 2016)

Blackacre by Monica Youn (Graywolf, 2016)

The Program Era by Mark McGurl (Harvard University Press, 2009)

In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman (Picador, 2015)

Related works by other writers

The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind, an anthology edited by Claudia Rankine (Fence, 2016)

The Collected Poems of Adrienne Rich (W.W. Norton, 2016)

White Debt,” an essay by Eula Biss, published in the New York Times Magazine

In the Same Breath: The Racial Politics of the Best American Poetry 2014” by Isaac Ginsberg Miller, published in the American Poetry Review

Sep 01 2016

1hr 32mins


Rank #11: Episode 38: Sharon Olds

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Rachel Zucker talks to acclaimed, award winning poet Sharon Olds about dope, talking nicely to yourself when you’re alone, noticing one’s tiniest thoughts, the advantages of being an “ordinary enough” person, Brenda Hillman and Community of Writers (formerly known as Squaw Valley), teaching, the rhythm of writing, Odes, sharing poems, being truthful, Galway Kinnell, how to deal with bad reviews, how to deal with praise, envy, talent, self-esteem, jealousy, heteromania, eros, intimacy, anger, dancing, parent-child separation and so much more.


Books by Sharon Olds

Odes (Knopf, 2016)

Stag’s Leap (Knopf, 2012)

One Secret Thing (Knopf, 2008)

Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002 (Knopf, 2004)

The Unswept Room (Knopf, 2002)

Blood, Tin, Straw (Knopf, 1999)

The Wellspring (Knopf, 1996)

The Father (Knopf, 1992)

The Sign of Saturn (Secker and Warburg, 1991)

The Matter of This World (Slow Dancer Press, 1987)

The Gold Cell (Knopf, 1987)

The Dead and the Living (Knopf, 1983)

Satan Says (Pitt Poetry Series, 1980)

Other Writers and Books  Mentioned in the Episode

Faculty of Community of Writers (formerly known as Squaw Valley Writer’s Conference): Brenda Hillman, Forrest Gander, Francisco Alarcón, Gregory Pardlo

Galway Kinnell

Sylvia Plath

Anne Sexton

Audre Lorde

Muriel Rukeyser

Donna Seaman

Toi Derricotte

Other Relevant Links and Resources

The Bachelorette (TV show)

Pinchas Zukerman

Itzhak Perlman

Isaac Stern

Yo Yo Ma

Community of Writers (formerly known as Squaw Valley)

Dr. Debra Cohan

Whitney Museum

Tom Waits

Oct 04 2017

2hr 21mins


Rank #12: Episode 53: Tommy Pico

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Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Tommy Pico about his first three books: IRL, Nature Poem, and Junk. Pico talks about epic cycles, the birdsong, growing up on a Kumeyaay reservation, becoming a poet, the culture shock and class shock of going to college in the Northeast, deciding not to go to medical school, training himself to become a performer, his influences and the teachers who helped him stop taking the easy way out and write longer work, learning to write no matter what, letting his voice open up, going from being unknown except in the world of local readings and zines to a headliner reading to a packed house, the craft, form and function of his books, the importance of being alone, the reason he loves long poems, experiments in screenwriting, genre, traveling for work, his podcast Food 4 Thot and so much more.

Extra Materials for Episode 53

Books by Tommy Pico

Junk (Tin House, 2018)

Nature Poem (Tin House, 2017)

IRL (Birds LLC, 2016)

Other Writers and Books Mentioned in the Episode

William Carlos Williams’ Paterson (New Directions, 1995)

Robert Graves’ The White Goddess (FSG, 2013)

Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf, 2004)

Maggie Nelson’s Jane (Soft Skull, 2013)

Alice Notley’s The Descent of Alette (Penguin, 1996)

The Monster at the End of this Book (Golden Books, 2003)

Morgan Parker

Kathleen Ossip

Sam Ross

Jason Koo

Pamela Sneed

Ariana Reines

Natalie Eilbert

Sasha Fletcher

Ocean Vuong

Sampson Starkweather

June Jordan

Natalie Diaz

Simone White

Paul Muldoon

Mary Ruefle

“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats

Other Relevant Links


FEED (High Line installation)

Soft Skull Press

Ugly Duckling Presse

Bird Song Collective

Birds LLC


Food 4 Thot

Gramma Poetry


Jun 13 2018

1hr 57mins


Rank #13: Episode 66: Sarah Gambito

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Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, professor and co-founder of Kundiman Sarah Gambito about writing after the 2016 election, their shared love of cooking, experiments in non-traditional teaching, going back to the ancients and redefining the goals of the creative writing workshop to include: care (of self and other), nourishment, joy and abundance. Gambito describes the loneliness she felt moving to New York in her mid-twenties, how and why she and Joseph Legaspi co-founded Kundiman (“a national nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing generations of writers and readers of Asian American literature”) and how sometimes you need to buy a snow-cone machine.


Books by Sarah Gambito

Loves You (Persea, 2019)

Delivered (Persea, 2009)

Matadora (Alice James, 2004)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Dan Harris’ 10% Happier (Dey Street Books, 2019)

Jon Kabat-Zinn

Joseph Legaspi

Myung Mi Kim

Other Relevant Links


Vedas scriptures

Elaine Retholtz

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

Mar 08 2019

1hr 18mins


Rank #14: Episode 69: Live Reading with Brown, Joseph, Meitner Parker, Pico, Tolbert, and Yanyi

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A live reading featuring past Commonplace guests Jericho Brown, Janine Joseph, Erika Meitner, Morgan Parker, Tommy Pico, TC Tolbert, and Yanyi, held in Passages Bookstore in Portland, OR, on March 30, 2019.


New Books by Commonplace Guests

The Tradition by Jericho Brown (Copper Canyon, 2019)

Magical Negro by Morgan Parker (Tin House, 2019)

Holy Moly Carry Me by Erika Meitner (BOA Editions, 2018)

The Year of Blue Water by Yanyi (Yale University Press, 2019)

Biographies for all the readers featured in this episode

Jericho Brown is the recipient of fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Whiting Foundation. Brown’s first book, Please (New Issues 2008), won the American Book Award. His second book, The New Testament (Copper Canyon 2014), won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. His latest collection is The Tradition (Copper Canyon 2019). He is an associate professor and the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University.

Janine Joseph was born in the Philippines. She immigrated to the U.S. at the age of eight and lived undocumented for fifteen years. She is the author of Driving Without a License, winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, the 2018 da Vinci Eye Award, and named an Honorable Mention for the 2018 Sheila Margaret Motton Book Prize from the New England Poetry Club, among other honors. An organizer for Undocupoets and a contributing editor for Tongue, Janine also serves on the Advisory Board for the Center for Poets & Writers at OSU-Tulsa. Currently, she lives in Stillwater, OK, where she is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University.

Erika Meitner was born and raised in Queens and Long Island, New York. She attended Dartmouth College (for a BA in Creative Writing and Literature), Hebrew University on a Reynolds Scholarship, and the University of Virginia, where she received her MFA in Creative Writing as a Henry Hoyns Fellow, and her MA in Religious Studies as a Morgenstern Fellow in Jewish Studies. Meitner is the author of five books of poems. Her newest collection, Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions, 2018), is the winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award in poetry, and a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle award in poetry. Meitner is currently an Associate Professor of English, and the Director of the MFA program in Creative Writing and the undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Virginia Tech.

Morgan Parker is the author of the poetry collections Magical Negro (Tin House 2019), There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé (Tin House, 2017), and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback Books, 2015). Her debut young adult novel Who Put This Song On? will be released by Delacorte Press this fall. In addition, a debut book of nonfiction is forthcoming from One World/Random House. Parker received her BA in Anthropology and Creative Writing from Columbia University and her MFA in Poetry from NYU. She is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a 2016 Pushcart Prize, and is a Cave Canem graduate fellow. Parker is the creator and host of Reparations, Live! at the Ace Hotel. With Tommy Pico, she co-curates the Poets With Attitude (PWA) reading series, and with Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective. She lives in Los Angeles.

Tommy “Teebs” Pico is author of the books IRL (Birds, LLC, 2016), winner of the 2017 Brooklyn Library Literary Prize and a finalist for the 2018 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, Nature Poem (Tin House Books, 2017), winner of a 2018 American Book Award and finalist for the 2018 Lambda Literary Award, Junk (Tin House Books, 2018), and Feed (forthcoming 2019 from Tin House Books). Originally from the Viejas Indian reservation of the Kumeyaay nation, he now splits his time between Los Angles and Brooklyn. He co-curates the reading series Poets With Attitude (PWA) with Morgan Parker at the Ace Hotel, co-hosts the podcast Food 4 Thot, and is a contributing editor at Literary Hub.

TC Tolbert often identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, dancer, and poet. TC’s first full-length collection, Gephyromania, was published by Ahsahta Press in 2014. Gephyromania was selected as one of the top poetry books of 2014 by Entropy and was listed by Eileen Myles as one of her favorites for 2014 in The Gay and Lesbian Review. S/he is a nationally certified EMT and in the summer, s/he leads wilderness trips for Outward Bound. In addition, TC is Creator and Director of Made for Flight, a youth empowerment project that utilizes creative writing and kite building to create a living memorial commemorating transgender people who were murdered in the previous year. TC was selected as Tucson’s Poet Laureate in 2017.

Yanyi is a writer and critic. In 2018, he won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, awarded by Carl Phillips, for his first book, The Year of Blue Water (Yale University Press, April 2019). Currently, he is an associate editor at Foundry and an MFA candidate at New York University. He formerly served as Director of Technology and Design at The Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, senior editor at Nat. Brut, and curatorial assistant at The Poetry Project. He is the recipient of fellowships from Asian American Writers Workshop and Poets House.

Apr 30 2019



Rank #15: Episode 27: Rita Dove

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Rachel Zucker talks with Rita Dove, former Poet Laureate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, author of more than 15 books and University of Virginia professor about political poetry, creative writing programs, the usefulness of prosody, form as ‘a talisman against disintegration,’ the public intimacy of social media, her poem ‘Parsley,’ audience, code switching, why some poems are hard to read, blackness and other people’s expectations of her as a black woman, getting over the Iowa voice, narrative poetry, her book Thomas and Beulah, the myth of Persephone, Trump, motherhood, marriage, slavery, freedom, why she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, being a musician and a ballroom dancer, the solace of rhyme, and embracing change.


Books by Rita Dove

Collected Poems: 1974-2004 (W.W. Norton, 2016)

Sonata Mulattica (W. W. Norton, 2010)

American Smooth (W. W. Norton, 2006)

The Darker Face of the Earth (Story Line Press, 2000)

On the Bus with Rosa Parks (W. W. Norton, 2000)

Mother Love (W. W. Norton, 1996)

Thomas and Beulah (Carnegie Mellon, 1996)

Through the Ivory Gate (Vintage, 1993)

Selected Poems (Vintage, 1993)

Museum (Carnegie Mellon, 1992)

Grace Notes (W. W. Norton, 1991)

Fifth Sunday (Callaloo, 1990)

The Yellow House on the Corner (Carnegie Mellon, 1989)

Books and Other Authors Mentioned in the Episode

Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Puffin Books, 2013)

Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days (University of Iowa Press, 2010)

A Poet’s Glossary by Edward HIrsch (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (W. W. Norton, 2001)

Gunter Grass

Laurel Snyder

The University of Virginia MFA programCharles Wright, Gregory Orr, Lisa Russ Spaar, Paul Guest, Debra Nystrom

Rachel Zucker’s Eating in the Underworld (Wesleyan, 2003)

The Reaper Essays by Mark Jarman (Story Line Press, 1996)

Renga for Obama (organized by Major Jackson)

Tanks and the Bangas’ website and their Tiny Desk performance

Other Relevant Links

Rita Dove’s poem “Parsley”

Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Ballroom dancing

Apr 25 2017

1hr 54mins


Rank #16: Episode 41: Danez Smith

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Rachel Zucker talks with Danez Smith, author of [insert] boy and Don’t Call Us Dead (recently shortlisted for the National Book Award) about confessional-testimonial poems, sonnets, essential poems, poets and books, Cave Canem, the MFA industrial complex, not feeling desired, depression, community, living and learning, Minneapolis, living as a full-time artist, their writing space, hanging out with grandma, HIV+ diagnosis, Danez’s new poems, writing a time travel novel, play, getting over imposter syndrome, and the challenges and pleasures of working on a third book after two early successes. Towards the end of the episode Danez reads two new poems.


Books by Danez Smith

Don't Call Us Dead

[insert] boy

When Young Folks Ask Danez Who They Should Be Reading:

Morgan Parker

Kaveh Akbar

Eve Ewing

Javier Zamora’s Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon, 2017)

Rachel McKibbins’ Blud (Copper Canyon, 2017)

Anais Duplan

Shane McCrae’s In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan, 2017)

Chen Chen’s When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017)

Shira Erlichman

Angel Nafis

Franny Choi

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza  

“Older” Poets/Books That Danez Loves:

James Baldwin

Ross Gay

Aracelis Girmay

DA Powell

Sharon Olds

Cornelius Eady

Gwendolyn Brooks

Terrance Hayes’ Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006)

Other Essential Books for Danez:

Essex Hemphill’s Ceremonies (Plume, 1992)

Jericho Brown’s Please (New Issues Press, 2008)

Lucille Clifton’s Collected (BOA Editions, 2012)

Cornelius Eady’s Brutal Imagination (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2001)

Li-Young Lee’s Rose (BOA Editions, 1993)

Cave Canem

Terrance Hayes

Toi Derricotte

Cornelius Eady

Chris Abani

Patricia Smith

Tim Seibles

Nikky Finney

Natasha Tretheway

Claudia Rankine

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Angela Thomas

Philip B. Williams (first mentor at Cave Canem)

Nate Marshall

Angel Nafis

Morgan Parker

Charif Shanahan

Nabila Lovelace, The Conversation (with Aziza Barnes)

Other Important Links/Artists/Organizations

Sun Ra

Frank Ocean

Youth Speaks — Brave New Voices

Nov 15 2017

1hr 28mins


Rank #17: Episode 15: Bernadette Mayer

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Host Rachel Zucker speaks with one of her favorite poetic influences: feminist rebel-poet Bernadette Mayer, about being a writer and a mother, life in New York City, writing habits, and the circumstances behind her foundational book Midwinter Day (written all on one day, December 22, 1978) . They discuss dreams, the desire to record EVERYTHING, how the poetry community has changed (and how it hasn’t) since Bernadette began writing, and the complications of writing about family.


Books by Bernadette Mayer

The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (Nightboat Reprint, 2017)

Works and Days (New Directions, 2016)

Eating the Colors of a Lineup of Words: The Collected Early Books of Bernadette Mayer (Barrytown/Station Hill Press, 2015)

Sonnets (Tender Buttons Press, 2014)

The Helens of Troy (New Directions, 2013)

Studying Hunger Journals (Station Hill Press, 2011)

Ethics of Sleep (Trembling Pillow Press, 2011)

Poetry State Forest (New Directions, 2008)

Scarlet Tanager (New Directions, 2005)

Midwinter Day (New Directions Reprint, 1999)

Another Smashed Pinecone (United Artists Books, 1998)

Proper Name and Other Stories (New Directions, 1996)

A Bernadette Mayer Reader (New Directions, 1992)

Other Books/Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (Haymarket Books, 2015)

What’s Your Idea of a Good Time by Bill Berkson and Bernadette Mayer (Tuumba Press, 2006)

The Random House Book of 20th Century French Poetry, edited by Paul Auster (Vintage, 1984)

Alice Notley

Anne Waldman

Ted Berrigan

Eileen Myles

Other Links of Note

St. Mark's Poetry Project

Bernadette’s Archive

Bernadette’s Journal Ideas and Writing Experiments

Bernadette’s page at the Electronic Poetry Center

The Drama in the Everyday: Bernadette Mayer’s Early Poems” by Douglas Messeri, published on Hyperallergic

Audio Recordings of Bernadette’s Poems and other Interviews, from Penn Sound

Dec 22 2016

1hr 16mins


Rank #18: Episode 13: D.A. Powell

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Host Rachel Zucker talks with her friend D.A. Powell, author of five award-winning books of poetry and professor at University of San Francisco. They talk about the presidential election, outrage, disturbance, poetry as social activism and action, normalization, resistance, erasures, palimpsests, minimalism, droplifting, notebooks, revision strategies, chaos and order(ing), and going forward. They also talk about their time together at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, teaching, their mutual affection and respect for one another and the importance of friendship.


Books by D.A. Powell

Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Graywolf, 2014)

Repast: Tea, Lunch and Cocktails (Graywolf, 2014)

Chronic: Poems (Graywolf, 2012)

Dunstan Thompson: On the Life and Work of a Lost American Master (edited alongside Kevin Prufer) (Pleiades Press, 2010)

By Myself: An Autobiography (collaboration with David Trinidad) (Turtle Point Press, 2009)

Cocktails: Poems (Graywolf, 2004)

Other Books and Projects Mentioned in the Episode

Sentences by Robert Grenier

garlic in the ground by Robert Grenier (video portrait by Charles Bernstein), published by Jacket2

Soldier's Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father — A Daughter's Memoir by Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics, 2015)

Howl by Allen Ginsberg (the Moloch section) (City Lights reissue, 2001)

Citizen by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf, 2014)

Other Relevant Links

D.A. Powell’s Unruly Elegies,” by Christopher Richards, published in the New Yorker

30 Books: Gregg Barrios on D.A. Powell’s “Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys,” published in Critical Mass

“Hell's Music: A 'Guide For Boys' With Adult Themes,” by Craig Morgen Teicher, published by NPR

People, Publications and Events Mentioned in this Episode

Bernie Sanders

Elizabeth Warren

Rachel Maddow

#NoDAPL/Standing Rock

Barry White

Matthew Dickman

Abby Hoffman

Radi Os by Ronald Johnson (Flood Editions, 2015), an "erasure" of Paradise Lost

Jane Wyman

James Baldwin

Marianne Moore

Boomerang! (Rachel’s contributor’s journal): A limited edition literary journal created to encourage communication between writers (modeled on ROOMS a contributors Journal made by Bay Area women poets. Committed to linguistic and visual experimentation, Boomerang!  Ran for 15 issues. Contributors included: Rick Barot, Miranda Field, Alan Feldman, Joy Katz, Wayne Koestenbaum, Lisa Lubasch, Hermine Meinhard, DA Powell, Reginald Shepherd, Elizabeth Robinson, David Trinidad and Max Winter.

Dec 01 2016

1hr 48mins


Rank #19: Episode 16: Jericho Brown

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Host Rachel Zucker speaks with award-winning poet Jericho Brown about the differences between poetry and journalism, the role of truth and facts in poetry, the complexities of separating a poet’s autobiography from the work especially in the age of Facebook, writing about family and about queerness, coming out, “bad people,” the complications of assembling a collection a poems, poetry projects v. poems, and treasuring the “small, complete thing.”


Books by Jericho Brown

The New Testament (Copper Canyon, 2014)

Please (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2008)

Other Books or Writers Mentioned in the Episode

The Fuehrer Bunker: The Complete Cycle by W.D. Snodgrass (BOA Editions, 1995)

Essex Hemphill

Nikki Giovanni

Langston Hughes

Gwendolyn Brooks

Countee Culle

Claude McKay

Jean Valentine

Elizabeth Willis

Interviews Mentioned and Other Relevant Links

“Becoming Jericho Brown” by Jeremy Redmon, published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An interview with Jericho in the Nashville Review

Autobiography of Real: an interview with Jericho in the Yale Literary Magazine

Until the Fulcrum Tips: A Conversation with Rita Dove and Jericho Brown, published in the Best American Poetry

“Is This the End of the Era of the Important, Inappropriate Literary Man?” by Jia Tolentino, published in Jezebel

The National Book Awards

Jan 02 2017

1hr 9mins


Rank #20: Episode 63: Juliana Spahr

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Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, scholar and activist Juliana Spahr about teaching, language poetry, studying at SUNY Buffalo, post-colonialism and anti-colonialism, personal rules she established when living, writing and teaching in Hawaii, finding a more nuanced way of avoiding appropriation (without just avoiding it completely), who she is willing to upset, what it means to not uphold a nation, funding, the influence of the state on literature, why literature and higher education (especially MFA programs) remain so segregated and influenced by whiteness, the problems with declamatory political poems, Commune—both the book press and the magazine—occasional poems, how the genre of poetry is changing, the role of the internet on political poetry projects, the impact of Black Lives Matter on literature, and how literature is becoming more and more like opera.


Books by Juliana Spahr

Du Bois’s Telegram: Literary Resistance and State Containment (Harvard University Press, 2018)

That Winter the Wolf Came (Commune Editions, 2015)

An Army of Lovers (with David Buuck) (City Lights, 2013)

Well Then There Now (Black Sparrow, 2011)

The Transformation (Atelos, 2007)

This Connection of Everyone With Lungs (University of California Press, 2005)

Fuck You—Aloha—I Love You (Wesleyan University Press, 2001)

Everybody’s Autonomy: Connective Reading and Collective Identity (University of Alabama Press, 2001)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

American Women Poets in the 21st Century: Where Lyric Meets Language, edited by Juliana Spahr and Claudia Rankine (Wesleyan University Press, 2002)

Myung Mi Kim’s Commons (University of California Press, 2002)

Gloria Anzaldúa's Borderlands / La Frontera: The New Mestiza (Aunt Lute Books, 2012)

Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf, 2004)

Gertrude Stein

Leslie Scalapino

Robert Creeley

Charles Bernstein

Lyn Hejinian

James Thomas Stevens

Germaine Greer

Gwendolyn Brooks

Joshua Clover

Jasper Bernes

Ron Silliman




Arielle Greenberg

Allen Ginsberg

Other Relevant Links

Juliana’s essay “My White Feminism” in The Boston Review

Commune Editions

Theory, Pop, and Riot

SUNY Buffalo poetics program

Lana Turner (Issue 10 here)

Claire Grossman / Cantil


Democratic Socialists

Language Poetry

Poets Against the War

Jan 10 2019

1hr 30mins