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Interview with Poets about their New Books

New Books in Poetry Marshall Poe

    • Livres

Interview with Poets about their New Books

    Matty Weingast, "The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns" (Shambhala, 2020)

    Matty Weingast, "The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns" (Shambhala, 2020)

    A radical and vivid rendering of poetry from the first Buddhist nuns that brings a new immediacy to their voices.
    The Therigatha ("Verses of the Elder Nuns") is the oldest collection of known writings from Buddhist women and one of the earliest collections of women's literature in India. Composed during the life of the Buddha, the collection contains verses by early Buddhist nuns detailing everything from their disenchantment with their prescribed roles in society to their struggles on the path to enlightenment to their spiritual realizations. Among the nuns, a range of voices are represented, including former wives, women who lost children, women who gave up their wealth, and a former prostitute.
    In The First Free Women: Poems of the Early Buddhist Nuns (Shambhala), Matty Weingast revives this ancient collection with a contemporary and radical adaptation. In this poetic re-envisioning that remains true to the original essence of each poem, he infuses each verse with vivid language that is not found in other translations.
    Simple yet profound, the nuance of language highlights the beauty in each poem and resonates with modern readers exploring the struggles, grief, failures, doubts, and ultimately, moments of profound insight of each woman. Weingast breathes fresh life into this ancient collection of poetry, offering readers a rare glimpse of Buddhism through the spiritual literature and poetry of the first female disciples of the Buddha.
    Matty Weingast is co-editor of Awake at the Bedside and former editor of the Insight Journal at Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.
    Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern University, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. His books are Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse (English/Hebrew and The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew). He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com
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    • 52 min
    Yehoshua November, "Two Worlds Exist" (Orison Books, 2016)

    Yehoshua November, "Two Worlds Exist" (Orison Books, 2016)

    Yehoshua November's second poetry collection, Two Worlds Exist (Orison Books), movingly examines the harmonies and dissonances involved in practicing an ancient religious tradition in contemporary America.
    November's beautiful and profound meditations on work and family life, and the intersections of the sacred and the secular, invite the reader--regardless of background--to imaginatively inhabit a life of religious devotion in the midst of our society's commotion.
    Yehoshua November's first poetry collection, God's Optimism, won the Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize.
    Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern University, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. His books are Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse (English/Hebrew and The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew). He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com
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    • 56 min
    Pamila Gupta, "Portuguese Decolonization in the Indian Ocean World: History and Ethnography" (Bloomsbury, 2020)

    Pamila Gupta, "Portuguese Decolonization in the Indian Ocean World: History and Ethnography" (Bloomsbury, 2020)

    Pamila Gupta’s Portuguese Decolonization in the Indian Ocean World: History and Ethnography (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2020), takes a unique approach to examining decolonization processes across Lusophone India and Southern Africa, focusing on Goa, Mozambique, Angola and South Africa, weaving together case studies using five interconnected themes.
    Gupta considers decolonization through the twined lenses of history and ethnography, accessed through written, oral, visual and eyewitness accounts of how people experienced the transfer of state power. She looks at the materiality of decolonization as a movement of peoples across vast oceanic spaces, demonstrating how it was a process of dispossession for both the Portuguese formerly in power and ordinary colonial citizens and subjects.
    She then discusses the production of race and class anxieties during decolonization, which took on a variety of forms but were often articulated through material objects. The book aims to move beyond linear histories of colonial independence by connecting its various regions using the theme of decolonization, offering a productive and new approach to writing post-national histories and ethnographies.
    Finally, Gupta demonstrates the value of using different source materials to access narratives of decolonization, analyzing the work of Mozambican photographer Ricardo Rangel, and including lyrical prose and ethnographical observations.
    Portuguese Decolonization in the Indian Ocean World provides a nuanced understanding of Lusophone decolonization, revealing the perspectives of people who experienced it. This book will be highly valuable for historians of the Indian Ocean world and decolonization, but also those interested in ethnography, diaspora studies and material culture.
    Pamila Gupta is Associate Professor at WISER (Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research) at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. She is the co-editor of Eyes Across the Water: Navigating the Indian Ocean (2010) and the author of The Relic State: St. Francis Xavier and the Politics of Ritual in Portuguese India (2014).
    Ahmed Yaqoub AlMaazmi is a Ph.D. candidate at Princeton University. His research focuses on the intersection of law and the environment across the western Indian Ocean. He can be reached by email at almaazmi@princeton.edu or on Twitter @Ahmed_Yaqoub. Listeners’ feedback, questions, and book suggestions are most welcome.
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    • 1h 7 min
    Chelsea Wagenaar, "The Spinning Place" (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2019)

    Chelsea Wagenaar, "The Spinning Place" (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2019)

    In The Spinning Place (Southern Indiana Review Press, 2019), Chelsea Wagenaar explores the power of language—in terms of its possibilities and what it fails to express.
    As a being with a body in the world, there are so many experiences that are inexpressible. These poems attempt to touch upon those experiences, relating what it means to have a body, one that carries so many things, from children in the womb to the emotional weight of our relationship to others and the world around us. As Wagenaar lyrically examines everyday moments, her words reach for an ecstatic experience of the sacred.
    Moon-sliced star-pocked
    streetlit bleat, coal train moving
    like its own ghost along the tracks.
    2:00, 3:00, my shadow sways
    as I catch myself, hand on the wall,
    pulled from bed by your nocturnal haunt,
    you at your crib rail, blanket clutched,
    more sound than body.
    — from “Night Shift”
     
    Chelsea Wagenaar is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently The Spinning Place was winner of the 2018 Michael Waters Prize. Her first collection, Mercy Spurs the Bone, was selected by Philip Levine to win the 2013 Philip Levine Prize. She holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of North Texas, and currently teaches at Valparaiso University. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Image and The Southern Review.
    Andrea Blythe is a cohost of the New Books in Poetry podcast. She is the author of three chapbooks, Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tale (Interstellar Flight Press), Your Molten Heart / A Seed to Hatch (Kickstarter funded, 2018), and the collaboratively written Every Girl Becomes the Wolf (Finishing Line Press, 2018), authored alongside Laura Madeline Wiseman. She cohosts the New Books in Poetry podcast and is the founder of Once Upon the Weird. Find her online at andreablythe.com or on Twitter/Instagram @AndreaBlythe.
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    • 38 min
    Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, "The Age of Phillis" (Wesleyan UP, 2020)

    Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, "The Age of Phillis" (Wesleyan UP, 2020)

    Jennifer J. Davis speaks with Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma, about The Age of Phillis (Wesleyan UP, 2020), Jeffers’s latest collection of poems centered on the remarkable life of America’s first poet of African descent, Phillis Wheatley Peters. The Society of Early Americanists recently selected The Age of Phillis as the subject for their Common Reading Initiative for 2021. Prof. Jeffers has published four additional volumes of poetry including The Glory Gets and The Gospel of Barbecue, and alongside fiction and critical essays. She lives in Norman, Oklahoma.
    In The Age of Phillis, Jeffers draws on fifteen years of research in archives and locations across America, Europe and Africa to envision the world of Phillis Wheatley Peters : from the daily rhythms of her childhood in Senegambia, the trauma of her capture and transatlantic transport, to the icy port of Boston where she was enslaved and educated. In our conversation, Jeffers speaks to the origins of this project, reveals how she embarked on the research and writing process, and shares a few powerful poems from the volume.
    Jennifer J. Davis is Associate Professor of History and Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Oklahoma, and the Co-Editor of the Journal of Women’s History.
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    • 53 min
    Sarah M. Sala, "Devil's Lake" (Tolsun Books, 2020)

    Sarah M. Sala, "Devil's Lake" (Tolsun Books, 2020)

    Devil's Lake (Tolsun Books, 2020), the debut collection by Sarah Sala, is an amalgam of American life. The poems move deftly within a world that is equal parts dangerous, celebratory, subdued, modern, and rural. Sala uses format and form to bring the spotlight to American violence with just as much care as she does queerness. From the gentle retelling of a brutal murder to the capturing of memories beginning to fade from a grandmother's mind, Devil's Lake honors each of its topics. It is through the collection's three sections readers are invited to look not only at themselves, but each other for the threads that hold in that which makes us who we are.
    Sarah M. Sala is a poet, educator, and native of Michigan with degrees from the University of Michigan and New York University. She is the recipient of fellowships from Poets House, The Ashbery Home School, and Sundress Academy for the Arts. Her work appears in BOMB, Poetry Ireland Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and The Southampton Review, among others. The founding director of Office Hours Poetry Workshop, and assistant poetry editor for the Bellevue Literary Review, she teaches expository writing at New York University and lives in Washington Heights with her wusband.
    Athena Dixon is a NE Ohio native, poet, essayist, and editor. Her essay collection, The Incredible Shrinking Woman, is forthcoming from Split/Lip Press (2020). Athena is also the author of No God in This Room, a poetry chapbook (Argus House Press). Her poetry is included in The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic (Haymarket Books). Learn more at www.athenadixon.com
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    • 41 min

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