The Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre podcast focusses upon the work of one poet or features discussion about poetry with poets and academics. The theme music for the podcast, entitled ‘Leaving for the North’, was composed by Aneurin Rees, and played by Aneurin Rees (guitar) and Rosalie Tribe (violin). For more information about the Poetry Centre, look up our website or find us on social media @brookespoetry
Episode 24: Eric White - bonus material
In this extra mini-episode, which follows on from a longer interview with Dr Eric White, Eric gives us some insight into the Avant-Gardes and Speculative Technologies (or AGAST) project, which draws on his research to consider what kinds of powerful applications these modernist technologies might have today.
Episode 24: Eric White
This is the second instalment in an occasional series to feature research that colleagues are engaged with at Oxford Brookes University. This episode includes an interview with Dr Eric White, who is a Reader in American Literature at Oxford Brookes University. Eric specializes in avant-garde literature and is the author of two books: Reading Machines in the Modernist Transatlantic: Avant-Gardes, Technology and the Everyday (2020) and Transatlantic Avant-Gardes: Little Magazines and Localist Modernism (2013). He has also prepared critical editions of texts, including Readies for Bob Brown’s Machine (2020) and The Early Career of William Carlos Williams (2013). Eric is the principal investigator of the Avant-Gardes and Speculative Technology (AGAST) Project, a digital humanities collaboration that reimagines modernists’ inventions using XR (Extended Reality, a term that includes virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality). Together with Dr Georgina Colby, he co-edits two Edinburgh University Press Series on avant-garde writing. In this discussion, Niall Munro and Eric begin by talking about Eric’s early research that focussed on the little magazines and magazine culture in North America in the modernist period and eventually became the focus of his first book. We think about some of the ideas that underpin that book, such as localism and localist modernism, and zoom in to look at two highly influential little modernist magazines, Others and Fire!! After this, we move on to consider some of the research that featured in Eric’s second book, Reading Machines in the Modernist Transatlantic, and Eric reflects on the relationship between avant-garde art practice and technology, as he draws attention to the work of modernist writers such as Mina Loy. Eric goes on to outline one of the key arguments in his book - that writers like Loy employed techno-bathetic strategies to propose new ways of thinking about technology, strategies that could often be highly emancipatory. In addition to Loy, Reading Machines in the Modernist Transatlantic includes a number of other intriguing characters, and none is perhaps more intriguing than Bob Brown. Eric explains how Brown, together with his wife Rose sought to bring avant-garde ideas into the mainstream, through projects such as his Reading Machine, a device that was supposed to change the way we read and related to texts. If the cinema had been transformed by the ‘talkies’, Brown reasoned, so too the book could be transformed by his ‘readies’. We close the podcast by thinking about how African American writers like Gwendolyn Bennett, Langston Hughes, and Amiri Baraka used a particular form of technology in their work - the railroad - and how this kind of infrastructure gives voice to African American concerns and communities. Unlike other podcasts in this series, this one features some bonus material! In an extra mini-episode, Eric gives us some insight into the Avant-Gardes and Speculative Technologies (or AGAST) project, which draws on his research to consider what kinds of powerful applications these modernist technologies might have today. We hope you enjoy the podcast - do get in touch if you have questions or want to let us know what you think. You can e-mail us via email@example.com or find the Poetry Centre on social media - Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram - we’re @brookespoetry And thank you for listening!
Episode 23: Dinah Roe talks to Niall Munro
This latest episode marks something of a departure for the Poetry Centre podcast. If you’re a regular or just occasional listener to this podcast, you’ll know that it normally features a poet in conversation about two or three of their poems. This episode is the first of a series in which Niall Munro talks with colleagues at Oxford Brookes University and showcases some of the very exciting research that they have been doing into poets and poetry. In this episode, Niall Munro talks with Dr Dinah Roe, Reader in Nineteenth-Century Literature here at Oxford Brookes. Dinah is an expert on Christina Rossetti, Victorian poetry, and the Pre-Raphaelites. During this past semester Dinah has run discussion groups and contributed an introduction to a Weekly Poem featuring Rossetti’s work that you can still find on our website, and we’re releasing this podcast on Sunday 5 December - Christina Rossetti’s birthday. In the discussion with Dinah, we focus on three poems by Rossetti: 'The heart knoweth its own bitterness', 'Love understands the mystery', and ‘Goblin Market’ and explore how Dinah came to be interested in Rossetti, the poet’s reputation, and the place of religion in Rossetti’s work. We also consider how Dinah’s view of Rossetti has changed during her time working with her poetry and prose and in the course of writing a book about her family, and how Rossetti’s experience as a carer affected her writing. Dinah received her BA from Vassar College and a PhD in English Literature from University College London. She is the author of Christina Rossetti's Faithful Imagination: The Devotional Poetry and Prose (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and The Rossettis in Wonderland: A Victorian Family History (Haus, 2011), and the editor of Christina Rossetti: Selected Poems (Penguin Classics, 2008) and The Pre-Raphaelites: From Rossetti to Ruskin (Penguin Classics, 2010). Dinah is currently writing a monograph on the interactions of literary and visual arts in Pre-Raphaelite art, taking into account the influence of nineteenth-century literature on book illustration, painting and the decorative arts from 1848 to the turn of the century. She is also editing a three volume edition of The Complete Poems of Christina Rossetti (Longman Annotated English Poets), due for publication in 2025. You can find out more about Dinah's work on her profile page on the Brookes website, and follow her on Twitter - find the links on our Podcasts page.
Episode 22: Leah Umansky talks to Niall Munro
Leah Umansky is the author of two book-length collections, The Barbarous Century (2018), Domestic Uncertainties (Blazevox, 2012), and two chapbooks, Straight Away the Emptied World (Kattywompus Press, 2016), and the Mad Men-inspired Don Dreams and I Dream (Kattywompus Press, 2014). Her writing has been widely published in places like The New York Times, The Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A Day, USA Today, POETRY, Guernica, and American Poetry Review. She has been the host and curator of the New York City-based poetry series COUPLET since 2011, and is a graduate of the MFA Program in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. Leah has become well known for her poetry inspired by TV series, such as Mad Men, Westworld, and Mr. Robot. Many of her Game of Thrones-inspired poems have been translated into Norwegian and Bengali. In 2013, Flavorwire named her #7 of 23 People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry, and her chapbook Don Dreams and I Dream was voted one of The Top 10 Chapbooks To Read Now in 2014 by Time Out New York. Leah has been a middle and high school English teacher for fifteen years and has also taught workshops at The Poetry School, Hudson Valley Writers Center, and Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Visible Ink Program. She is also a collage-artist who has designed all of her book covers. In ‘Where are the Stars?’, one of the poems in her collection The Barbarous Century, Leah writes: ‘The self is mapped in certainties. I am certain that I can measure this in words.’ Those kind of certainties are consistent preoccupations of Leah’s work: hers is a poetry that frequently asserts ‘I am…’, ‘I will…’, ‘This is what I mean…’, and there is a self-confidence and ambition in her writing, especially in a poem like the first we look at together, ‘Unleashed’, that makes an interrogation of the self possible, especially the female self. In that poem and elsewhere, Leah explores the way that people change and suggests that such change can be immensely rewarding if we risk embracing it. This is sometimes an idealistic poetry that seeks to celebrate what is good in the world (at one point in our conversation, Leah says that ‘there’s always room for celebration’), but it is also a realistic one. With its desire to show what it’s like to be alive, Leah’s poetry is also happy - and sometimes seems compelled - to call out those things and those people who live meanly and selfishly, such as the ‘tyrant’ in her recent work - a thinly-disguised version of Donald Trump sometimes, but often a much broader figure of someone, usually a man, who has no sense of decency. And often that examination of goodness is bound up with questions of gender and in particular - as is evident in a poem we discuss, ‘[Of Men]’ - in the relationship between men and women. Just as these poems challenge traditional and obsolete notions of gender roles in their subject matter, so too their form bends and sometimes dismantles poetic conventions. Leah brings a tremendous energy and virtuosity to her work and to the way she talks about her work, and I think that comes across clearly in this interview. Please do check out the poems, which you can find on the Poetry Centre website - just look up the Podcast page - and seek out Leah’s work. There are links to her books, her website, and her social media on the Podcasts page too. Thank you for listening!
Episode 21: Christopher Kempf talks to Niall Munro
In this episode Niall Munro talks with Christopher Kempf about his new collection of poetry, What Though The Field Be Lost, published by Louisiana State University Press in 2021. Chris’s first poetry collection, Late in the Empire of Men, won the 2015 Levis Prize from Four Way Books and was reviewed widely, including in The New York Times. His scholarly book, Craft Class: The Workshop in American Culture, is forthcoming from Johns Hopkins University Press. You can find out more about Chris on his website: christopherkempf.com What Though The Field Be Lost may be grounded in the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, but it doesn't just offer just a fascinating engagement with the soil and statues there. It is also a profound exploration of conflict and memory more broadly in the United States. Indeed, one of the most striking things about the book is the way in which it is so attentive to the complexities of history. Through the discussion of two poems from the book, ‘Remembrance Day’ and ‘After,’ (both of which you can read on the Poetry Centre's Podcasts page), Chris considers first of all what motivated him to write about Gettysburg, ‘the presentness of the past’ that he felt there on what many consider - as he puts it - ‘the most consequential piece of land in the United States’, and how he responded to the ‘tactical beauty’ of the Confederate monuments that dominate the landscape now. We go on to think about how far it is still possible to claim an ‘American we’, something that Chris himself recognises might be an old-fashioned claim, but one that he puts forward with great vigour and skill in the collection, making use of the poetic or rhetorical strategy of the synecdoche - that is having one part of something stand in for the whole thing - to think about the relationship between the human body and the body politic. Chris also discusses his interest in the Civil War re-enactors that he met at Gettysburg and their motivations, and thinks too about art’s capacity to re-imagine the present. What possibilities does poetry provide as a space to think about radical equality in America, and what responsibilities does the poet have to society and to history? If you enjoy the podcast or have any comments, feel free to get in touch: we’re on social media where our handle is @brookespoetry, and you can e-mail me via the Poetry Centre website. Thanks again for listening!
Episode 20: celeste doaks talks to Niall Munro
celeste doaks is a poet and journalist. She is the author of Cornrows and Cornfields, a collection of poems published in 2015 by Wrecking Ball Press. The book was listed as one of the Ten Best Books of 2015 by Beltway Quarterly Poetry. In 2017, she edited and contributed to the anthology Not Without Our Laughter: Poems of Humor, Joy, and Sexuality, published by Mason Jar Press. And in 2019 she published American Herstory, which was the winner of Backbone Press’s 2018 chapbook competition. The chapbook, which we talk about in the podcast, was named best chapbook by the Maryland Poet Laureate, Grace Cavalieri, and includes poems about First Lady Michelle Obama. celeste has received numerous awards, such as a 2017 Rubys Grant in Literary Arts, a Lucille Clifton Scholarship, and residencies at Atlantic Center of the Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. In addition to American Herstory, on the podcast we also discuss celeste’s five forthcoming poems about the nineteenth-century African American entrepreneur Mary Ellen Pleasant and an article that celeste wrote in Ms. Magazine about a recent innovative online concert given by the singer-songwriter Erykah Badu. We also mention celeste’s monthly book recommendation column, which blends together celeste’s thoughts about literature with astrology, Litscope, and her review of the poet Rachel Long’s book My Darling from the Lions, out now in the UK but soon to appear in the US. You can find links to all of these books, articles and poems on the Poetry Centre’s Podcasts page (https://www.brookes.ac.uk/poetry-centre/podcasts/). On the podcast, celeste reads two poems from American Herstory: the title poem and also ‘What the First Lady Found in my Homage’, and we talk about what Michelle Obama’s role as First Lady has meant for American life and politics, the recent election of Kamala Harris to the Vice Presidency, and a number of significant but neglected American women. celeste also explains how she wrote about Michelle Obama through the art work that the First Lady chose for the White House and what these choices can tell us about not just Obama herself, but America more generally. You can find out more about celeste's work on her website (https://doaksgirl.com/) and follow her on Twitter (@thedoaksgirl). It was such a pleasure to hear celeste read these poems and to talk to her about them. I urge you to check out American Herstory; it’s a truly vibrant and exciting collection of poems that explores - through humour, fine detail, and beautifully-imagined situations - Michelle Obama’s experience in the White House and some of the positive and painful challenges that came with that, as well as thinking through black women’s experiences in the United States now. And make sure you look out for celeste’s fascinating and important forthcoming poems about Mary Ellen Pleasant in Volume 33 of the Chicago Quarterly Review. Again, there is a link to the journal on the Poetry Centre’s Podcasts page. If you enjoy the podcast or have any comments, feel free to get in touch: we’re on social media where our handle is @brookespoetry, and you can e-mail me via the Poetry Centre website. Thanks again for listening!