The Poetry Magazine Podcast features poets and artists in their natural form—reading poems and speaking freely.
Joshua Bennett and Justin Rovillos Monson in Conversation
In this week’s episode, Bennett and Monson get into literary ancestors, Monson’s top 5 rappers of all time, and what the future of poetry in this country might look like (if we are brave enough to invest in our young people).
Monson spoke to us from the Michigan Department of Corrections in Freeland, Michigan. His poems are featured in “The Practice of Freedom” issue, which focuses on poetry and visual art produced by artists who have been directly affected by the criminal legal system. Joshua Bennett guest edited the issue alongside Tara Betts and Sarah Ross.
In Bennett words, “Justin Monson is one of the most courageous, original, daring poets working today. I first encountered his work three years ago, as a judge for PEN America’s Writing for Justice Fellowship, and was absolutely taken aback from the very first lines. The work shimmered. Monson has a fantastic ear, and a citational breadth that is truly a wonder to behold; it’s clear that he reads, and listens, to everything. Postcolonial theory, 90s hip-hop, erasure poetry. It’s all there. All of these traditions are part of the world Monson paints on the page, and is generous enough to share with us.”
Cathy Park Hong and Lynn Xu on the Poetry of Choi Seungja
In this week’s episode, Cathy Park Hong and Lynn Xu talk about the startling directness of Korean poet Choi Seungja and the humbling experience of translation. The conversation ranges from Nietzsche to South Korea in the 1980s, and from Paul Celan to capitalism. As Xu says, Choi’s poems contemplate “living with death as one’s companion,” but instead of indulging in nihilism, her poems are often surprisingly hopeful. Choi Seungja is one of the most influential feminist poets in South Korea, and her book Phone Bells Keep Ringing For Me (Action Books) has recently been published in English, thanks to Cathy Park Hong and her cotranslator Won-Chung Kim.
Jackson Holbert and John Darnielle in Conversation
When we learned that poet Jackson Holbert asked to speak with John Darnielle for this episode, it made so much sense to us. Holbert’s poems in the magazine are simple in construction, but the voice is incredibly distinct. The poems deal with heavy subjects in a way that feels normal, everyday. For those listeners who spent the 90s listening to cassettes of Darnielle’s musical moniker, The Mountain Goats, you know that Darnielle has one of the most deceptively simple and distinct vocal styles you’ll ever encounter.
Holbert and Darnielle discuss everything from Iowa, a shared love of Slipknot, metal, and the physicality of writing. You’ll hear Darnielle read an unreleased lyric for a future song, and read from his latest novel, Universal Harvester. Holbert reads “The Uncle Poem” from the January 2021 issue of Poetry.
Tongo Eisen-Martin and Sonia Sanchez in Conversation
On today’s show, Tongo Eisen-Martin talks with activist, icon, legend, Sonia Sanchez. Listen to these brilliant poets pass fire, life, and love between them.
Eisen-Martin is a poet, movement worker, and educator. His poem “Pennies for the Opera” is featured in the December 2020 issue of Poetry as part of a portfolio of work from the book Carving Out Rights from Inside the Prison Industrial Complex. Both Eisen-Martin and Sanchez appear in the book, alongside artists incarcerated at Stateville Prison in Crest Hill, Illinois.
Sonia Sanchez is a poet, playwright, professor, and activist. You can read “Haiku and Tanka for Harriet Tubman”—which you’ll hear in this episode—in the April 2018 issue of Poetry.
Leila Chatti and Sharon Olds in Conversation
When we asked Leila Chatti who she wished to speak with most, she chose one of the poets who gave her permission to be a poet herself: Sharon Olds. And not just to be a poet, but to write from a voice she thought wasn’t possible. You’ll hear why.
This episode features more poems than we’ve ever had on the Poetry Magazine Podcast. Chatti asked Sharon to read a selection of poems that span 40 years – ranging from her first book, Satan Says, to her most recent book, Arias. Leila also reads from the December issue of Poetry, and her latest collection, Deluge, a chronicle of illness, womanhood, and faith.
Alison C. Rollins and Latria Graham in Conversation
Poet Alison C. Rollins recently finished her first outdoor survival training program. Part of her preparation was to read Latria Graham’s essays about the experience of being a Black woman in the outdoors. Graham is a journalist and fifth-generation farmer living in South Carolina. In “Out There, Nobody Can Hear You Scream,” published in Outdoor Magazine, Graham describes a moment when—right before leaving for the Great Smoky Mountains—her mother handed her the gun of her late father for protection. Rollins had a very similar experience. Her mother’s first question, when hearing of her daughter's desire to journey into the outdoors, was, “How are you going to protect yourself?” This moment of recognition led Rollins and Graham together, to talk about writing, survival, and, as Rollins calls it, “Black nature joy.”