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New Books in Poetry

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Interview with Poets about their New Books

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Interview with Poets about their New Books

iTunes Ratings

14 Ratings
Average Ratings
8
2
1
0
3

Plum

By MurasakiFloof - May 22 2019
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The guests are wonderful, wonderful ways to wage the hours of my days.

Too much chatter.

By OaklandEd - Nov 18 2013
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The interviews are sloppy and informal with a good deal of meaningless chatter. It takes forever to get to meaningful content. I listened to two podcasts and felt I was wasting my time.

iTunes Ratings

14 Ratings
Average Ratings
8
2
1
0
3

Plum

By MurasakiFloof - May 22 2019
Read more
The guests are wonderful, wonderful ways to wage the hours of my days.

Too much chatter.

By OaklandEd - Nov 18 2013
Read more
The interviews are sloppy and informal with a good deal of meaningless chatter. It takes forever to get to meaningful content. I listened to two podcasts and felt I was wasting my time.
Cover image of New Books in Poetry

New Books in Poetry

Latest release on Feb 04, 2020

The Best Episodes Ranked Using User Listens

Updated by OwlTail 8 days ago

Rank #1: Dorothea Lasky, “Rome” (Liveright, 2014)

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Dorothea Lasky‘s Rome (Liveright, 2014) is a collection that will catch you off guard. Lasky lures the reader in with familiar language and imagery only to have them suddenly realize they’ve been brought to room where the walls wobble and collapse, eternally revealing darker passageways.


She is undoubtedly a language poet but also one who sees language as a roadblock. The communication is in the sound. Just as with Hemingway, words are merely an entry point to meaning. Stripped of even punctuation, these lines hurl themselves at the reader.


Do not take this economy of language as simplicity. Within it are the layers of desire, grief, betrayal, and rage. Lasky’s speakers embody everything that is human yet alien, familiar and foreign. Emboldened by their own savage humanity, they assert themselves into landscapes and consciousness.


But this is not easily won– Lasky lets us into her process, revision, and search for obsession. If she cannot lose herself in the poem then she will not offer it up to the world.


When at sixty it might hit you


What you’ve given up


When your sentimental heart


Might let its hair down and see


The sun for the first time


When you pick up this book, read the lines aloud, impose your will on them, and see where they take you.

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Jul 30 2014

53mins

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Rank #2: James Franco, “Directing Herbert White” (Graywolf Press, 2014)

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Every poet has their obsessions and for James Franco they are childhood, gender, sex, innocence, and the work place he knows best: the film industry. Within these poetic frames we’re introduced to various voices, landscapes nearly worn out with elegy, and a repertoire of imagery that is both tender and violent. Franco is our poet of earnest grotesquerie, favoring clarity to vagueness as he depicts the bizarre zones of early experience that crash against poems of adulthood that occupy spaces most readers do not have access to: film and celebrity. However, Franco’s poems seem to argue that a kinship exists between the world of the adolescent and the world of a movie set. In his poems, we see the intersection of both and the distinctions between sincerity and artifice are blurred and complicated by a speaker who seems simultaneously anchored in both of these perceptual districts. In addition to Franco’s fidelity to the bramble of childhood memory and glittering industrial complex of show business, his poems are deceptively musical, employing internal rhymes and capturing the tiny voltage of music inside every syllable, creating a sonic landscape one might miss if you don’t read the poems aloud. When the book Directing Herbert White (Graywolf Press, 2014) was first published, it made a big splash in the otherwise small pond of the poetry world, and it reminded me of what Franco does best: challenges society’s notions of the artist and the dynamic – and at times rigid communities – they inhabit. During out chat we talk about the relationship between childhood and violence, the creative writing workshop as a site of instruction, his various poetic influences, and so much more.

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Dec 21 2015

1hr 26mins

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Rank #3: Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Ross Gay, “Lace and Pyrite” (Organic Weapon Arts Press, 2014)

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Chapbookapalooza 2014

Aimee Nezhukumatathil & Ross Gay

Lace & Pyrite


Organic Weapon Arts Press, 2014


Two gardens, 500 miles apart, managed to be in conversation with one another over the span of five seasons. What came of their conversation was this collection of epistolary poems by two brilliant poets. Part exchange, part mediation on hands in dirt and the deep well of winter, this collection offers sustenance to the mind as the garden does to the body. We do not need technology to connect us; our innate connections already exist– we just have to recognize them, nurture them, and watch them grow.

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Oct 08 2014

17mins

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Rank #4: Makalani Bandele, “Hellfightin'” (Willow Books, 2012)

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There is no better description of poet Makalani Bandele‘s debut book Hellfightin’ (Willow Books, 2012) than the one found on his comprehensive website: “Derived from the nickname the French Army gave the all-Black 369th Infantry Regiment in World War I, the Hellfighters . . . is a tour de force of lyricism, mysticism, jive philosophy, and discursive narrative as blues lick. The title of the book, Hellfightin‘, as a term is best understood in the context of the critical framework of the Blues …” Bandele’s Hellfightin‘, then, is a poetic education in the African American musical, cultural and historical traditions, and one of the latest installments from the famous creative ensemble known as the Affrilachian Poets. Bandele couldn’t be among better company than those poets who seek to bring attention to the black literary tradition within the Appalachian territories. Hellfightin‘ does all that and more. Listen to how Bandele tells us how.

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Mar 19 2012

55mins

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Rank #5: Daniel Borzutzky, “Bedtime Stories for the End of the World!” (Bloof Books, 2014)

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Chapbookapalooza 2014

Daniel Borzutzky

Bedtime Stories for the End of the World


Bloof Books, 2014


This is a collection in which the synaptic leaps have their own synaptic leaps. In direct confrontation with neoliberalism, Borzutzky holds nothing back. His verse levels the page like a chainsaw, leaving the surreal, bloodied and bare.


“At times like this he thinks: I can say just about anything right now.


This is, after all, a bedtime story for the end of the world.


I am moving beneath ground and not sleeping and trying to cross the border from one sick part of the world to another”


Prepare to be altered by these poems.

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Oct 01 2014

18mins

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Rank #6: Paul Rouzer, “On Cold Mountain: A Buddhist Reading of the Hanshan Poems” (U. of Washington Press, 2015)

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Paul Rouzer‘s new book offers a Buddhist reading of a famous collection of poems and the author associated with them, both of which were called Hanshan, or Cold Mountain. On Cold Mountain: A Buddhist Reading of the Hanshan Poems (University of Washington Press, 2015) presents and proposes what it calls a “Buddhist approach to poetry”: rather than focusing on the intentions of the author in reading poetry, it offers a way of thinking about the importance of the way a poem is read. Pt. 1 of the book introduces readers to the history of, and some of the technical issues surrounding, the Hanshan poems: its prefatory material, later debates about its authenticity, arguments in Chinese scholarship about the life and dates of the poet. It also proposes a way that we might think about a “Buddhist poetics.” Pt. 2 of the book looks closely at the overarching themes and rhetoric of the poems themselves, looking at the ways that meaning is made through internal and external juxtapositions, and tracing the tensions between moving and staying, residence and travel, and motifs of “blasted trees,” moons, jewels, beautiful women, and more through the poems. The same year that Jack Kerouac’s Dharma Bums appeared – 1958 – American poet Gary Snyder published his first translations of Hanshan, and Pt. 3 of Rouzer’s book considers resonances between the Beat and post-Beat writers and the Buddhist rhetoric, imagery, and themes of the Cold Mountain poems. It’s a fascinating book that’s a pleasure to read for both specialist and general readers.

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Mar 14 2016

1hr 4mins

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Rank #7: Daniel Tiffany, “My Silver Planet: A Secret History of Poetry and Kitsch” (John Hopkins UP, 2014)

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Mass-produced, fake, sentimental, easily digestible: when we think of kitsch these elements often come to mind. Furthermore, kitsch is almost always associated with material culture, but in Daniel Tiffany‘s new book, My Silver Planet: A Secret History of Poetry and Kitsch (John Hopkins University Press, 2014), the author complicates our notions of kitsch by entangling it with the modern development of poetry. By analyzing the ballad-revival of the eighteenth-century and moving the reader through modernism and then right into the avant-garde, Tiffany shows us how poetic kitsch serves as a bridge between elite and vernacular cultures. In My Silver Planet, Tiffany has given us an ambitious genealogy of kitsch and its crucial relationship to diction, showing us how language itself complicates class distinctions, divides and unifies disparate cultural energies, and leaves us to wonder exactly what we mean – what are the social and political implications – when we describe anything as kitsch.

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Mar 06 2015

36mins

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Rank #8: Nancy Hargrove, “T.S. Eliot’s Parisian Year” (University of Florida Press, 2010)

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When it comes to writers and artists, biography plays a provocative role–yielding insight into both artistic influences and origins. This is especially true with the modernists, in particular T.S. Eliot. After graduating from Harvard University in 1910, the young Eliot spent a year in Paris, a year that had a lasting and profound effect upon his work that has gone largely unexamined until now.


In her riveting intellectual biography, T.S. Eliot’s Parisian Year, Nancy Duvall Hargrove, the William L. Giles Distinguished Professor Emerita of English at Mississippi State University, revisits that single year in the poet’s life to mine it for later influences.


While this period is often interpreted to be typical of the early 20th century post-graduate foreign study experience, Hargrove invites us view it as extra-ordinary. Linking Eliot’s work to the Ballets Russes, the music of Stravinsky and the intellectual tension ofLaNouvelle Revue Francaise, she demonstrates the rare coming together of an artist and the art of his time to form “un present parfait.”


It was a year that influenced not only his poetry but also his prose. As Hargrove writes, the theater Eliot encountered while in Paris “may have been the inspiration for the difficult dramatic goal which Eliot later set for himself: to write verse drama in an age conditioned to prose and to write of spiritual and moral concerns in an age largely devoid of and unsympathetic to them.”


But perhaps most impressive- especially to any lover of Paris- is Hargrove’s meticulous recreation of the city as it was then. Through chapters on sport, popular entertainment, transportation, etc., she elegantly situates the young poet amid a city so alive it seems to strain against the page. The end result is a book that leaves the reader longing for both the poetry and Paris.

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Jun 15 2012

1hr 1min

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Rank #9: Simon Critchley, “ABC of Impossibility” (Univocal Publishing, 2015)

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From its opening fragment on “Fragments” to its “Possibly dolorous tropical lyrical coda,” Simon Critchley‘s new book is a pleasure to hold in the hand and the mind. ABC of Impossibility (Univocal Publishing, 2015) is a collection of fragments and a catalog of “impossible objects”: poetry, America, emptiness, indirection, money, and more. Thoughts and jokes and quotes and small essays ranging from one line to several pages are arranged in a sequence that plays with unusual juxtapositions and acts as a form of “counterpoint,” riffing on and playing off of the work of Pessoa and Augustine and Rousseau and Blake and Heidegger and others. This is a thoughtful and playful book about time, and the sea, and humor, and loss, and slavery, and the importance of unlearning. Highly recommended!

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Mar 07 2016

1hr 5mins

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Rank #10: Brad Gooch, “Rumi’s Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love” (Harper, 2017)

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Ever since their composition in the 13th century the poems of the Persian writer Rumi have enthralled millions of readers around the world. In Rumi’s Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love (Harper, 2017), Brad Gooch describes the life of their author and the path that took him from scholarship to poetry. The son of a scholar and cleric, Rumi traveled extensively as a child and enjoyed a wide-ranging education that prepared him for a life as a teacher and jurist. His meeting with the traveling mystic Shams of Tabriz transformed Rumi’s life, as he soon abandoned his education and responsibilities in favor of immersion into a life of aestheticism. As Gooch explains, it was this relationship which sparked Rumi’s development into the poet he became, as his deep and passionate relationship with Shams created a wellspring of emotions that were subsequently embodied in some of the most enduring verses ever written.

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Jun 08 2017

48mins

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Rank #11: Nick Admussen, “Recite and Refuse: Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry” (U Hawaii Press, 2016)

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Published by the University of Hawaii Press in 2016, Nick Admussen’s exciting new book Recite and Refuse: Contemporary Chinese Prose Poetry explores the development of twentieth-century prose poetry within the unique political and cultural context of Communist China. In this ambitious study, Admussen attempts not only to define prose poetry but also to trace its ever-shifting role in modern Chinese society. In doing so, he produces a study which comprehensively analyses the dynamic manner in which Chinese prose poetry engages with a range of diverse cultural discourses, including science, popular culture and political rhetoric. Throughout the book, Admussen foregrounds the protean nature of the genre by exploring how prose poetry has been used by poets working both within and outside of official Communist Party strictures. Moreover, he identifies Chinese prose poetry as a unique tradition, distinct from Euro-American manifestations of the genre. In addition to these insightful analyses, Recite and Refuse also contains a number of original translations of important Chinese prose poems, including Ouyang Jianghe’s stunning “Hanging Coffin”.


Miranda Corcoran received her PhD in 2016 from University College Cork, where she currently teaches American literature. Her research interests include Cold-War literature, genre fiction, literature and psychology, and popular culture. She has published articles on paranoia, literature, and Cold-War popular culture in The Boolean, Americana, and Transverse, and contributed a book chapter on transnational   paranoia to the recently published book Atlantic Crossings: Archaeology, Literature, and Spatial Culture.

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Apr 11 2018

1hr 2mins

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Rank #12: Sally Wen Mao, "Oculus" (Graywolf Press, 2019)

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In Oculus (Graywolf Press, 2019), Sally Wen Mao explores exile not just as a matter of distance and displacement, but as a migration through time and a reckoning with technology. The title poem follows a girl in Shanghai who uploaded her suicide onto Instagram. Other poems cross into animated worlds, examine robot culture, and haunt a necropolis for electronic waste. A fascinating sequence speaks in the voice of international icon and first Chinese American movie star Anna May Wong, who travels through the history of cinema with a time machine, even past her death and into the future of film, where she finds she has no progeny. With a speculative imagination and a sharpened wit, Mao powerfully confronts the paradoxes of seeing and being seen, the intimacies made possible and ruined by the screen, and the many roles and representations that women of color are made to endure in order to survive a culture that seeks to consume them.

“I’ve tried to hard to erase myself.

That iconography—my face

in Technicolor, the manta ray

eyelashes, the nacre and chignon.

I’ll bet four limbs they’d cast me as another

Mongol slave. I will blow a hole

in the airwaves, duck lasers in my dugout.

I’m done kidding them. Today I fly

the hell out in my Chrono-Jet.”

— from “Anna May Wong Fans Her Time Machine”

Sally Wen Mao is the author of Oculus (Graywolf Press, 2019) and Mad Honey Symposium (Alice James Books, 2014). Her work won a 2017 Pushcart Prize and is published or forthcoming in A Public Space, Poetry, Black Warrior Review, Guernica, The Missouri Review, Tin House, The Best of the Net 2014, and The Best American Poetry 2013, among others. The recipient of fellowships and scholarships from Kundiman, the New York Public Library Cullman Center, and Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Mao holds an M.F.A. from Cornell University. Learn more at: www.sallywenmao.com.

Andrea Blythe bides her time waiting for the apocalypse by writing speculative poetry and fiction. She is the author of Your Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch (2018) a collection of erasure poems created from the pages of Trader Joe’s Fearless Flyers, and coauthor of Every Girl Becomes the Wolf (Finishing Line Press, 2018), a collaborative chapbook written with Laura Madeline Wiseman. She is cohost of the New Books in Poetry podcast, serves as an associate editor for Zoetic Press, and is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association. Learn more at: www.andreablythe.com

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May 22 2019

51mins

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Rank #13: Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi, "For Black Trans Girls Who Gotta Cuss A Mother F*cker Out When Snatching An Edge Ain’t Enough"

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Inspired by Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi has written her own beautiful choreo drama titled For Black Trans Girls Who Gotta Cuss A Mother F*cker Out When Snatching An Edge Ain’t Enough. Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi describes For Black Trans Girls as “a celebration of Trans Women, Goddesshood, a lament for our fallen, a sword for our living and a challenge to white supremacy, structural oppression and any who would dare try to erase us from existence." In this interview Lady Dane shows that she really is a renaissance woman, discusses the connection between racism and transphobia, challenges the idea that science is better religion especially for trans folks of color, and promotes the importance of accountability.

You can purchase a copy of For Black Trans Girls here. $2 from each book sold goes to a trans and/or gender non-conforming person of color’s survival fund.

Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi is an African, Cuban, Indigenous, American Trans performance artist, author, and playwright among many different titles.

Adrian King (pronouns: they/them/theirs) is a recently graduate of Brandies University’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies MA program and is an incoming graduate student in University of Michigan’s American Culture PhD program.

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Aug 19 2019

57mins

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Rank #14: Hope Wabuke, “Movement No. 1: Trains” (Dancing Girl Press, 2015)

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The poem fragments in Hope Wabuke‘s Movement No. 1: Trains (Dancing Girl Press, 2015) function more as meditations than portions of a whole. They meditate on movement’s power over the body and mind. What are the vessels that carry our bodies through cities, from home to beyond? Who are the people inhabiting our thoughts, moving our mind from idea to emotion to dream?


the city is color electric, neon; the humming static pulsing


further away. and she understands the way a charge moves through


air in the meeting of two bodies, but she does not understand the


afterwards, the pressing of a thing into the shape of something else.


These poems appear gentle but do not be deceived by the calm voice. Trains shudder and jolt, tracks shift and bump. There is a recognition of longing present each time the beloved is invoked, and a reluctant understanding that when in motion, the familiar becomes foreign.

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Oct 21 2015

13mins

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Rank #15: Leia Penina Wilson, “i built a boat with all the towels in your closet” (Red Hen Press, 2014)

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There’s a phrase that sometimes comes up among those of us who love poetry. Its called the “heresy of paraphrase.” It’s from a book published in 1947 by Cleanth Brooks titled The Well Wrought Urn, but it captures an idea that goes back to Aristotle. And this is the idea: a poem–at least a good poem–is a finally crafted work of art, and the way its crafted, the way its words are structured, is intrinsic to its meaning. You can’t paraphrase a poem. You can’t say it really means or basically means this or that, like you can with other sorts of communication, without distorting it, because how a poem uses language is as important as what its language conveys. In a poem, form and content are inseparable.


This view of poetry is the reason those of us who love poetry end up running to our bookshelves in the middle of a dinner party and pulling down our favorite poems and reading them aloud to our unsuspecting guests, because once you mention a poem you love, it doesn’t only feel inaccurate to say its about this or that, it feels like a kind of heresy, like your clumsy paraphrase is damaging it. And that’s exactly how I feel about the poet I’m interviewing today. Leia Penina Wilson’s new book is called i built a boat with all the towels in your closet (and will let you drown) (Red Hen Press, 2014). And if your ear or your mind popped a little when I said that title, that’s because even her titles are poetry. Here’s another title: “she eats his heart she has two hearts she doesn’t know which one to use she begins to call the second heart ‘little baby’ or ‘blitzkrieg.'”


As you can hear, the sheer verbal energy, the grammatical verve and irreverent jolts, of her language are dazzling, surprising, unparaphrasable, and if you happened to find yourself at my house for dinner, you’d be hearing me read it over more than one glass of wine. Fortunately, we have her here.

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Mar 21 2017

50mins

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Rank #16: Joshua Edwards, “Imperial Nostalgias” (Ugly Duckling Press, 2013)

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Joshua Edwards‘ new book and its title, Imperial Nostalgias (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2013), hint at a yearning for a lost world all of us helped to destroy or at the very least forgot. While tipping his hat to the social sciences throughout the book, Imperial Nostalgias is cunningly personal: each page is an intimate window to look out of, a window to take siesta in, a window to shout from, to lean beyond, but never a window to leap from because the poems don’t harass the reader into annihilation. Instead, they are oddly charming and innocent, perhaps a counter-force to what his eye must behold. Most of his poems are like games of tag between imagery and aphorism, between abstraction and the concrete, and this is the direct result of a person devoted to travel, which Imperial Nostalgias seems a direct result of.


In fact, when I finished the book, I felt like I hadn’t talked to another person in weeks, as if sitting on a cross-country train ride as the subjects of his poems flashed by: the historical – literary and otherwise – until that moment at dusk when the landscape darkened into the candor of personal meditation. The poet’s voice reflects the plain vernacular of talking to oneself, that most humble act, while simultaneously making the same voice sound as if it desires to be heard by all. Imperial Nostalgias is the labor of a frenzied (but measured) poet and the book reflects this in its restless pursuits: not only do we discover poetry in the book, but strange photographs and severe fragments of language that also accompany us on our reading journey. And not only are these vagrant busy pieces made strange by being collected as one, but the book itself – this bounded object – worked equally strange on me as a reader: because of its modest size I found myself preferring to carry the book in my back pocket and since inside the book several empty panels of white space exist, I found myself drawing and writing inside Imperial Nostagias, and by doing so the book became an amicable traveling companion. It is in this experience when I discovered Joshua Edwards’ generosity as an artist. While his work made solitude palpable for me, at some mysterious point I discovered the poet was with me the entire time I thought I was alone. During our discussion we talk about the relationship between travel and poetry, the genesis of his latest book, the conundrum of being both American and a poet, and so much more. I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.

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May 27 2013

1hr 7mins

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Rank #17: Lynn Strongin, “The Burn Poems” (Headmistress Press, 2015)

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When Denise Levertov called Lynn Strongin a “true poet,” she recognized an awareness that transcended the young poet’s age. This very human awareness can come with suffering. Inflicted with Polio as a child, Strongin speaks with a voice that understands states of varied ability, that knows real pain, and has navigated the way relationships change in the face of illness.


Composed entirely in singlets, The Burn Poems (Headmistress Press, 2015) pull at strings of understanding until meaning has unraveled and reassembled itself. There is a longing that emanates the pieces, a longing well-learned and well-developed that shifts its focus, but never loses intensity.


I want her to stay


Close


Not paralyzed like me


But content in her apron of photography: printed, filmic security


The image holy, holy, holy.


Bliss comes like flare of lit match


And can be blown out as quickly:


By word


It is rare for one to realize their conversation is inhabiting a moment of history-yet-to-come as it actively engages the present. When speaking with Strongin, I heard a voice that has resonated for generations and will continue to resonate for many to come. She has tapped into the undeniable, fragile force that makes us human and she allows that well-spring to flow.

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Oct 27 2015

21mins

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Rank #18: Tim Tomlinson, “Yolanda: An Oral History in Verse” (Finishing Line Press, 2015)

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Think of a place you have visited and to which you feel a connection. Now think of that place in utter ruin and devastation mere months later. You feel a pull, a pull to return, to help, and to make sense of the heavy fist nature can bring down on us at any time. Tomlinson personally gathered hours upon hours of eye-witness accounts, conversations, and testimonies. Translated and then transcribed, he pulled the poems directly from the transcriptions, as a sculptor would uncover a human form from within a block of marble. These poems go beyond what we understand as “poems of witness” and become “poems of testimony,” life rendered into verse in the purest sense.


we saw the barge


as well as the darkening of the world


my house was nothing


the barge was on top of our house


and the houses were gone


my house it was nothing anymore


a little portion of a steel bar


Through the disassociation needed to survive such trauma and begin to reshape rubble into a life, moments of clarity and realization are apparent, he lifts these moments so that we may see them clearly. This collection is labor of devotion and should be celebrated. Tomlinson reminds us that art is life, elevated.

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Oct 10 2015

16mins

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Rank #19: Lauren Gordon, “Fiddle is Flood” (Blood Pudding Press, 2015)

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In her macabre pastoral landscape Fiddle is Flood (Blood Pudding Press, 2015), Lauren Gordon conjures up a persona far-reaching enough to grapple with loss, grief, and the shock of intense change. But the poet does not hide behind the personal, instead she allows the speaker to become loss, become grief, and quake at the shock of a life turned on its head.


Using colloquial language and the cadence of hymn to a mesmerizing affect, Gordon pulls the reader into a melding of prairie, nostalgia, and memory:


…endless, endless


prairie for corn and mud and loss and dirt


and the seeds and the silky tassel of half truths


and how you find God in the middle of a haystack


naked and crouching and warm and how you found


yourself in love with a doll make out of a corn cob


whose skin became your own, dried and sheared and real.


Childhood musings of Laura Ingalls Wilder and “Little House on the Prairie” fuel the mixing of real and imagined, of the body before loss and the body after. This collection only appears gentle, it means to wound.

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Oct 13 2015

9mins

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Rank #20: Christopher Grobe, “The Art of Confession: The Performance of Self from Robert Lowell to Reality TV” (NYU Press, 2017)

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Christopher Grobe’s The Art of Confession: The Performance of Self from Robert Lowell to Reality TV (New York University Press, 2017) traces the ways the performance of confession permeated and transformed a wide range of media in postwar America. Grobe explores how confession—from the confessional poets of the 1960s to contemporary reality TV—is both constructed and authentic, artful even in its ostensible artlessness, and always on the move between and across media. The work’s archive is expansive, placing in conversation poetry, performance art, comedy, legal confession, film, and reality TV, genres whose conventions transform and whose boundaries blur when confronted with artists impulses to confess, to stage what Grobe calls “breakthroughs” out of both generic and sociocultural containment. Laying bare the ways confessional performances are stylized and mediated to elicit “a satiety of experience which can be taken as reality” while taking seriously artists’ attempts to reveal and perform an authentic self, Grobe demonstrates how confession energizes new ways of being, forms of collectivity, and political mobilization.

Christopher Grobe is an Assistant Professor of English at Amherst College where he teaches a wide range of courses on drama, poetics, performance, and performance culture and theory.

Petal Samuel is a postdoctoral fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. She is completing Polluting the Soundscape: Noise Control and Afro-Caribbean Women’s Decolonial Soundscapes, a book project that traces the evolution of noise legislation and public discourses decrying noise as technologies of racial control in the Caribbean and Caribbean diaspora, while highlighting the ways Afro-Caribbean women writers have reclaimed noise against the grain of colonial injunctions to remain quiet as a condition of civic inclusion.

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Feb 16 2018

1hr 10mins

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