A podcast from Saint Mark's Church in Jackson Heights, New York City, called by the New York Times, "the most diverse neighborhood in the world." The Red Door Series began in 2020 and sought to capture and amplify and celebrate that diversity. Father Spencer Reece wanted poetry to be in the same room with meditation.The pandemic had raged in Jackson Heights. Reece was called to the parish after the former priest, Father Checo, died of Covid-19. During the pandemic the series grew in popularity. The structure was simple. The poet reads one poem and then there is ten minutes of silence. The poet then reads the poem a second time. Suddenly people that had never been in a church were coming. The series has now spread to St. John's Church in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and is poised to debut in churches in Vancouver, British Columbia, in Lisbon, Portugal, in Brooklyn, New York, and in Milford, Connecticut.These podcasts are a time for us to interview the poets about their process and about how spirituality is or is not a part of their work. Originally the arts and the church were combined. Over the centuries they have grown apart. We seek to have them in conversation with one another once more.
I sat down with the brilliant poet David Baker to discuss his eponymous, gorgeous title poem, "Whale Fall" for his most recent collection. You’ll hear New York City’s bustle in the background as we talk about life, love and poetry on a sultry evening at the end of July. You can pick up a copy of Whale Fall where great books of poetry are sold, or online at http://www.davidbaker.website/whale-fall.
David Baker is a poet, educator, editor, and literary critic. He was born in 1954 in Bangor, Maine, grew up in Jefferson City, Missouri, and since 1983 has lived in central Ohio. He received his B.S.E. and M.A. degrees in English from the University of Central Missouri and his Ph.D. in English from the University of Utah, where he also served from 1980-83 as Editor and Poetry Editor of Quarterly West. Since 1984 Baker has taught at Denison University, in Granville, Ohio, where he is currently a teaching Emeritus Professor of English. Baker also serves frequently on the faculty of the MFA program for writers at Warren Wilson College and at writers’ workshops around the country. After serving as Poetry Editor of The Kenyon Review for more than twenty-five years, he currently curates the annual “Nature’s Nature” feature for the magazine.
David Baker is the author or editor of nineteen books, including thirteen books of poetry, most recently Whale Fall (2022, W. W. Norton), Swift: New and Selected Poems (2019, W. W. Norton), Scavenger Loop (2015, W. W. Norton) and Never-Ending Birds (2009, W. W. Norton), which was awarded the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Prize in 2011, and six books of prose, most recently Seek After: On Seven Modern Lyric Poets (2018, SFASU).
His individual poems and essays have appeared in the country’s finest journals, including American Poetry Review, Antaeus, The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, The Nation, The New Criterion, The New Republic, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, Raritan, The Southern Review, Tin House, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Yale Review. His poetry has been anthologized in The Longman Anthology of Poetry, The Making of a Sonnet, The Morrow Anthology of Younger American Poets, The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Strong Measures: Contemporary American Poetry in Traditional Forms, The New Bread Loaf Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, and many others.
Among his awards are prizes and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Theodore Roethke Memorial Foundation, Ohio Arts Council, Mellon Foundation, Poetry Society of America, the Pushcart Foundation, Utah Arts Council, Society of Midland Authors, and Ohioana Library Association. In addition to his work at Denison University, Baker has taught at Kenyon College, the University of Michigan, the Ohio State University, Jefferson City Senior High School, as well as at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, The Frost Place, Chautauqua Institute, Poetry by the Sea, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, The Catskills Poetry Workshop, and The Kenyon Review Writers Workshops in Italy and Ohio.
It was a pleasure to sit down in my apartment in Jackson Heights with one of our great poetic masters: Sarah Arvio. We talked about her life working at the United Nations, her books of poetry, her definitive translation of the work of Federico Garcia Lorca and her new book out now from Knopf, Cry Back My Sea., a lyrical tour-de-force., crossing HD with Sylvia Plath and with Stevie Smith with Gertrude Stein and many others. We talk about her friendship with Mark Strand. You can buy her book where great poetry books are sold, and you can find out more on her website at www.saraharvio.com.
This is the third of our podcasts, expanding out from the meditation poetry series begun at Saint Mark's, Jackson Heights, New York City. The fourth installment will be with David Baker, author of Whale Fall and a new selected of his poetry, Swift.
These chats are informal, giving the artist a platform to celebrate their works and hear how they are inspired. Because I am a priest and a poet, I certainly invite these modern prophets of our time to speak into any connection and influence the Holy Spirit has on their lives or work. Shalom!
The host of Beyond the Red Door, Spencer Reece, chats with Soren Stockman about the origins of his poetry practice, and his upcoming book Elephant. Soren is a poet and performer based in New York City. Elephant, his debut collection of poems, is forthcoming in fall 2022 from Four Way Books.
His work has been awarded First Place in the Narrative 30 Below Contest, has twice been a finalist for the New Letters Prize for Poetry and the Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize. Performance credits include “Joseph Merrick” in The Elephant Man at the Wings Theater in 2010, and more recently “Victor Pistachio” in Bloodshot at Target Margin Theater in 2020.
Find out more at https://sorenstockman.com/.
Beyond the Red Door: Founders Chat
In this episode the founders of The Red Door Poetry Series discuss how the series began, how they all met, and what the future of the project is shaping up to be! You'll hear from Spencer Reece, KC Trommel, Jared Harel, and Philip Clark. The conversation is lightly moderated by Matthew Chavez. If you'd like to learn more about the series and listen to past sessions, you can at https://www.facebook.com/stmarksjh. And you can find out more about St. Marks Episcopal Church in Jackson Heights, NY at https://www.saintmarks.net!
Dante Micheaux from London, England, reads from and talks to us about his wild and sui generis poem, Circus, a kind of modern African-American Wasteland.
Circus (Indolent Books, 2018), won the Four Quartets Prize from the Poetry Society of America and the T. S. Eliot Foundation. Micheaux's other honors include the 2020 Ambit Poetry Prize, and fellowships from Cave Canem Foundation and The New York Times Foundation.
You may notice the sounds of New York in the background. Enjoy them! This podcast was recorded in a humble New York apartment with the windows open to invite the life outside in.
Get a copy of Circus at: https://www.indolentbooks.com/circus-by-dante-micheaux/