Tuesday, April 22, 2014

April 20, 2014 Dennis Phillips Part one

This past Sunday we played part one of our two-part interview with poet Dennis Phillips. Dennis has been a guest on Poet as Radio before, and we were thrilled that he returned to talk to us about his new book Measures (Talisman House 2013). After reading some poems to open the interview, Dennis described the basic format of the book, which is organized in alphabetical order. He talked about the influence Dante's allegories had on his writing poetry. The Odyssey is also part of the 'palette' that is used to paint these wonderful poems. Nicholas introduced the idea of grounding and place in the Dennis's work.
After the top/bottom of the hour, the interview moved into a discussion of the poem as 'puzzle,' as observed by Jay, as well as the density and significance of the content. It is work that 'invites slow and attentive reading.' There is an aliveness and immediacy to this work, which prompted a discussion of music and its ability to move one to emotion without a discernible intellectual explanation as to how. Towards the end of the hour, we touched on beauty and modernism in writing. Dennis talked about how he finds beauty in difficult work, poetry that inspires a continual pondering and engagement.
We will play the second half of this interview on April 27th.
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Monday, April 7, 2014

April 6, 2014 Don Hagelberg's poetry and roundtable discussion

This Sunday we were pleased to read a text poetry submission by Don Hagelberg. (Thanks Don!) From reading his work we discussed how epigraphs are used in poetry and how the use of quotes illustrates a sense of community, with other writers but also other important social figures. We are reminded of the political aspects of writing and the way in which poetry specifically manifests the act of the witness.
After the top of the hour, we had a round table discussion about our own experience with Poet as Radio. In case any of you were curious, we reviewed how we were initiated into online radio. During our beginning months, we tended to over-prepare for our interviews; we have since learned to scale things down in order to interact with our guests more spontaneously. We are so grateful to have talked to so many wonderful writers. We reflected on how our interviews influence our own writing and how our writing habits have been changed through doing the show. Also, we've found that producing the show means we get to take greater part of this wonderful writing community.
Thank you to all our guests, past and future!
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On a sadder note, we announced the passing of poet and beautiful person, Colleen Lookingbill. We will have a memorial show in her honor on May 25th.

Monday, March 17, 2014

March 16, 2014: Jean Day

On Sunday we played our interview with Jean Day, who shared her chapbook Early Bird (O'Clock Press, 2014). This work is to be incorporated into a larger manuscript called Late Human. Jean talked about how she came to the subject of earliness through considering the idea of lateness. We talked about the form of the chapbook, much of which is in a column. She also employs enjambment, often within the line, which is very satisfying. One section, which Jean read during the interview, is completely comprised of surprising questions. She talked more about her grappling with lateness and how this influenced her work as well as how writing in series provides 'safety.' After the top of the hour the interview tackles the content of Early Bird; Jean uses prompts which instigate themes or 'scenes.' Through this conversation, we heard more about Late Human and the form there. Jean educated us on the 'Jeremiad.' Towards the end of the interview, she read a section from that work. We ended the interview with a discussion about rhyme and improvisation.
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Monday, March 10, 2014

March 9, 2014 Steve Dickison Live

On Sunday, Steve Dickison, the director of SFSU's Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives, came to discuss his manuscript, Wear You to the Ball. This incredible collection is a collaborative work paying homage to jazz musicians, and writers, mostly notably Etal Adnan and Zora Neal Hurston. Steve was not able to join us until the bottom of the hour so we began the show with recordings of Jelly Roll Morton and Zora Neal Hurston.
We read a couple of pieces from the manuscript, which is mostly composed of prose poems. Throughout the work there are numerous references to musicians, as well as quotes from musicians and writers. In this way the work is collaborative; the poems remind one of jazz musicians creating new music together. And the the prose poems, written as long sentences without the use of commas and periods, may also remind the reader of jazz, with its improvisational form.
You can see Steve performing his poetry at http://vimeo.com/7128289

After the top for the hour, Steve joined us and added his much-needed knowledge of music. He talked briefly about how music is disseminated throughout the world, explaining how musicians influence each other. He taught us about Buddy Bolden, who was so essential to jazz music. In terms of his work, he discussed the construction of the poems, where he used a syllabic constraint while sustaining a narrative thread. Steve lets his work come in from outside; he receives his content from his environment. He ended the interview sharing the importance of music in his earlier life, as well as his appreciation of the musician's discipline in creating his/her art.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

February 16, 2014- Steven Seidenberg Live!

Yesterday we welcomed Steven Seidenberg to Lightrail Studios to discuss his brilliant new book Itch (RAW ArT PRESS 2014). Steven's book of both philosophy and narrative questions how one grasps the experience of being in the now, in the body; how language might endeavor to grasp being without the perhaps inevitable gap between words and experience. The 'I' ponders this dilemma from a place of experiencing the itch. Itch is comprised of lyrical vignettes in paragraph form, which inspired some of us to read out loud or while walking. Steven talked about his work in relevance to other philosophical traditions; how the attempt to work out a solution can then create a new philosophical question. The 'I' is continually grappling with his own 'failure' to capture what is being sought. At the same time, the itch provides an experience that is embodied and which does not require the mediator of language. Like other philosophical works, Itch employs words in very specific ways that manifest particular meanings within the context of the larger work. Since the book uses an itch as its launching point, the position and the role of the body is inherent throughout; while there is thought, there is no thought without the senses.
Keep your eye out for Steven's forthcoming chapbook, Null Set (Spooky Actions Books), from which he read in the last few minutes of the interview.
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Saturday, February 15, 2014

February 9, 2014: Benjamin Hollander

We met with Benjamin Hollander a few weeks ago to discuss his new book, In the House Un-American (Clockroot Books, 2013). What ensued was extraordinary discussion about what it means to be both American and Un-American, and how both of those seemingly black-and-white terms are in constant flux and contestation. Ben treated us to several readings from his book, including a re-enactment of Bertolt Brecht's testimony in front of the House of Un-American Activities Committee. Among other topics, we discussed the paradoxes one encounters in a "melting pot" society, and the use of compassionate, non-snarky irony. We ended the conversation with a focus of the extraordinary last chapter of his book which envisions the heart of Islam as American. Click here to listen.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

February 2, 2014: Cassandra Troyan's poetry and round table discussion

We were thrilled to accept an audio submission from Casandra Troyan, Chicago poet, who recorded two pieces from her new book  BLACKEN ME BLACKEN ME, GROWLED (Tiny Hardcore Press, 2014). (Thanks Cassandra!!!). After playing her work, we had a short discussion about what we heard there, the details of physicality and relationship she depicts so sharply. Through hearing Cassandra's wonderful and affective presentation of her work, we considered how poetry tends to get read and performed. What are the differences of reading styles between different poets and poets of different regions? What affects those differences? How does setting affect reading?
Hey awesome writers, please keep sending submissions!!!!
Later in the show, we discussed our talk with Ben Hollander, whom we met with a few weeks ago and whose interview will be aired on the 9th. Ben talked about his new book In the House Un-American (Clockroot Books, 2013). This mixed genre book investigates what it means to be American and shows us our own contradictions and complexities. By looking closely, being American is made strange. Poetry also works to make language strange; it liberates us from our language habits and unhinges us. Ben's book has been described as a 'trickster book' because it incorporates fiction and documentary styles while also being poetic, personal and political; in this way it both surprises the reader and brings the reader along as it investigates the question of this culture we think we live in. Listen on Sunday to hear Ben's interview!!!
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