Written in water (PoemTalk #138)

Maggie Nelson, 'Bluets'

From left: Jennifer Firestone, Adrienne Raphel, and Julia Bloch.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW

Al Filreis gathered with Adrienne Raphel, Jennifer Firestone, and Julia Bloch to talk about Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. This book of 240 numbered prose-poem propositions was published by Wave Books in 2009. The group focuses on eleven sections, those numbered 222–232; these appear on pages 8993 in the Wave edition. Maggie Nelson’s PennSound page includes several recordings of readings in which she performs this work. The recording we play at the start of this episode is from a reading she gave at Boise State University in Idaho on April 26, 2013. 

The best of all possible Audens

A review of 'Goodnight, Marie, May God Have Mercy on Your Soul'

Poetry makes nothing happen. Since 2008, it’s been pretty common for contemporary poetry and the discourse about it to swirl anxiously around this line from W. H. Auden. Nobody likes it; everybody quotes it.

Poetry makes nothing happen. Since 2008, it’s been pretty common for contemporary poetry and the discourse about it to swirl anxiously around this line from W. H. Auden. Nobody likes it; everybody quotes it. But in quoting it, nobody tries to argue for some distance between poetry and politics. It’s more like the question of whether poetry (and art more broadly) is or is not political has been answered by the movement of history ­— it is.

Extreme texts

Design based on images by Nurul Wahidah.

When Jacket2 invited me to compose a CFP for a special feature spanning multiple modes of thinking, it was the summer of 2017 and we were several months into Trump’s presidency. I had just returned to the United States, where I am a naturalized “citizen,” after years in Singapore, where I was employed as a faculty member on a work visa, a status determined almost solely on the state’s articulated understanding of my temporary utility to society — a condition that defines and delimits the lives of immigrants everywhere, but especially in oligarchic states (like Singapore and the US) that bank on the sweat and blood of certain bodies, the profitability of distended indenture (including debt), disenfranchisement, carceral surveillance, and other forms of coercion.

William Corbett and Davy Knittle on James Schuyler

PennSound podcast #64

Left to right: William Corbett, Davy Knittle, and Stan Mir. Photo by Kelly Writers House staff, from the Michael Gizzi retrospective in October 2017.

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.

Curnow's reach

Allen Curnow's 'Collected Poems' and Terry Sturm's 'Simply by Sailing in a New Direction'

Allen Curnow (1911­–2001) was a dominant force in New Zealand letters and became an internationally acclaimed poet, anthologist, and critic.[1] Together, the 2017 Auckland University Press poems and biography provide a substantial (1120-page!) recognition of his achievement. Let me offer what follows as a kind of searching tribute.

FOIA request #SC 15–102-S

The detainee library

I was never left alone at Gitmo, though I was permitted to collect a variety of field recordings and write poems and notes on my iPhone. For security reasons, I was not permitted to record what one public affairs (PA) representative referred to as “nonpermissible human voice.” I attempted to record everything else, and I transcribed as much overheard speech as I could. 

Sycorax, spirit, and 'Zong!'

An interview with M. NourbeSe Philip

Editorial note: This exchange between Jordan Scott and NourbeSe Philip, undertaken in 2016 and just now published in Jacket2, centers on the role of spirituality in Philip’s book Zong!, which Evie Shockley has said “enacts a critique, but also effects a catharsis or, more accurately, works through a problem that lies at the intersection of the emotions, the psyche, and the soul, if such a thing can be spoken of in the twenty-first century’s secular spaces.” 

Editorial note: This exchange between Jordan Scott and NourbeSe Philip, undertaken in 2016 and just now published in Jacket2, centers on the role of spirituality in Philip’s book Zong!, which Evie Shockley has said “enacts a critique, but also effects a catharsis or, more accurately, works through a problem that lies at the intersection of the emotions, the psyche, and the soul, if such a thing can be spoken of i

A review of 'Attributed to the Harrow Painter'

Photo of Nick Twemlow (left) by Michael Marcinkowski.

The poems in Nick Twemlow’s second collection, Attributed to the Harrow Painter, address art as they do adolescence, family, trauma, and addiction: as strokes of what make both the artist and the now-father. The speaker of these poems is in his midlife and the father of a young son, whom he cannot parent without being informed by the forces and relationships that have defined him. The “I” of this collection may ironize or chide the self, but it does not deny that the “self” informs the work in spite of life’s free radicals.

Being in a body

Samantha Giles and Lauren Levin

Picture of a house under construction.
Photo by Julia Bloch.

Note: Lauren Levin and Samantha Giles live and work in a loosely affiliated social, political, and aesthetic scene in the Bay Area. Nether Giles or Levin has any academic affiliation, but both have continued to participate in the professionalization of poetry as curators, as publishers, and as people who write books. 

Note: Lauren Levin and Samantha Giles live and work in a loosely affiliated social, political, and aesthetic scene in the Bay Area. Nether Giles or Levin has any academic affiliation, but both have continued to participate in the professionalization of poetry as curators, as publishers, and as people who write books.