Who Reads Poetry is an attempt to understand poems through the reader. The reader is the person who attaches meaning to the poem with their voice and the time they have spent carrying the poem with them. In every episode we sit down with a person and their treasured piece of poetry and whip up a conversation around it. You may have noticed that sometimes it is easier to see beauty through some one else's eyes (in this case voice). Given the wealth of literature and poetry out there, discovering what you may love is a hard problem. Machines can shift through pages but they can't find meaning. Meaning is something all of us create for ourselves and each other. We are the best curators of this beautiful universe for each other. Here we go about trying to do just that!
Amy Lawless reads Robert Frost
Amy is an exceedingly fierce and hilarious poet whose most recent work Broadax is fresh off the press. Broadax is an exploration of being fearless in a world where fear is weaponized to keep women compliant. Amy brings to us her life long hate love of Robert Frost and reads Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. You get to hear this popular poem in a completely different albeit dark light. The conversation travels from hatred of poetry to peas and poetry as a form of rebellion. You will learn afresh that peas can not be eaten with ease. We reimagine Frost's darling poem and surmise the meaning of it as he may or may not have intended.
Hans Jürgen Balmes on translation and John Berger
In this episode, We talk to Hans Balmes about translating poetry and his relationship with John Berger. Hans is based out of Frankfurt, Germany. He works as an Editorial Director at S. Fischer in Frankfurt, is co-editor of the literary magazine Neue Rundschau, and translates from the English, including works by John Berger, Robert Hass, W. S. Merwin, and Martine Bellen. This episode is first part of our conversation.
Hans Jürgen Balmes reads W S Merwin
In this episode, We continue our conversation with Hans Hans Balmes and begin by reading Traveling Together by W S Merwin. Traveling together is at once a poem about love and separation. We talk about how Merwin’s life and poetry are connected and what makes him relatable. There is beautiful part about similarities between the lives of Merwin and John Berger. We talk the gnarly exercise of putting a book together. Hans is currently in process of publishing german translation of Merwin's poetry.
Eve Asher reads Wallace Stevens
In this episode, We listen to Eve Asher read 'The Emperor of Ice-Cream' by Wallace Stevens. Wallace Stevens was an American modernist poet. He won the pulitzer prize for his collected poems in 1955. Eve and I talk of death, the primary subject of this poem. She describes the multiple introductions to this poem through her life and how she came to appreciate it. We gossip about then famous and now dead writers getting in to a bar fight.
Talia Lavin reads Guillaume Apollinaire
In this episode, We listen to Talia Lavin read 'Zone' by Guillaume Apollinaire. Apollinaire was a French poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, and art critic of Polish descent. Apollinaire is considered one of the foremost poets of the early 20th century, as well as one of the most impassioned defenders of Cubism and a forefather of Surrealism. We talk of loss of faith, transcendence and love.
Coldplums reads Xin Qiji
In this episode, We listen to Coldplums read and translate a lyrical song poem by Xin Qiji. Xin was a chinese military leader in exile and a master at 'Ci' form of poetry. We dig in to Coldplums's gift of scissoring out the most moving and beautiful pieces of verse from the universe of literature. The conversation takes us to the intense romance between two poets Paul Celan and Ingeborg Bachmann. A nostalgia for a time when people wrote letters is also shared. You can hopefully excuse us for that indulgence.