William Corbett visited the Kelly Writers House in October 2017 for a retrospective reading and conversation with Stan Mir in honor of the poet Michael Gizzi. During his visit, Corbett and I had a conversation in the Wexler Studio about the work of New York School poet James Schuyler, whose Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler Corbett edited (Turtle Point Press, 2009). In our conversation, we discussed Schuyler’s early poems, his methods of perception, his fondness for children, his attention to New York and its qualities of light from his apartment window, and Corbett’s long career of teaching Schuyler’s poetry to undergraduate students.
Amber Rose Johnson, Davy Knittle, and Tonya Foster joined Al Filreis to discuss the poem “Riot” by Gwendolyn Brooks. “Riot” is the title poem in the (now rare) chapbook published by Dudley Randall’s Detroit-based Broadside Press in 1969, and has been collected variously, including in the book Blacks (1994). The Eclipse site offers a PDF copy of the original Riot chapbook. The recording used as the basis of this PoemTalk conversation comes from a reading Brooks gave at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City on May 3, 1983.
Christine Nelson, Davy Knittle and Erica Baum joined Al Filreis to talk about Erica’s Dog Ear,a book of photograph-poems, in which each poem is a meticulous reproduction of a dog-eared page of a mass-market paperback photographed to isolate the small, diagonally bisected squares or rectangles of text.
In I Love It Though Warren thinks about how we manage to live without finding it necessary to lie to ourselves or each other about how we’re living, even after hedges enclosed the commons, even as our bosses email us all the time. She thinks about how we manage to love and care for our friends, have desires, and sometimes see to their satisfaction, how we find pleasure in resisting the scenes and actions where we’ve been told all pleasure waits; in working for and spending money.
I read this quote from a twelfth-century verse chronicle by Wace, Roman de Rou, wherein he paraphrases the displeasure expressed by some local serfs at the neighboring nobility’s incorporation of the noncultivated lands that for these serfs had previously been a collective resource, writing, “We can go to the woods and take what we want, take fish from the fish pond, and game from the forests; we’ll have our will in the woods, the waters, and the meadows.”
“Burnt Code,” the opening poem of Christina Olivares’s debut collection, No Map of the Earth Includes Stars, startles in the intimacy of its address: “You devote years to / listening to, interpreting, misinterpreting code.” Here, Olivares’s speaker addresses her father, who is losing himself to schizophrenia. In a long series of poems in the book’s first section, “Petition,” her speaker imparts her memories, recent and long past, and those of her father, to whom the poems adhere in ways he cannot adhere to his own life.
Brandon Brown’s Top 40 is forty poems of forty sentences, each sequentially titled with the name of a song from America’s Top 40 with Ryan Seacrest, where the first poem’s title is the fortieth song of the countdown on September 14, 2013, and the title of the last poem is number 1.
Pop music is an ecstasy for Brown, and it has both collectivity and isolation in it. He writes: