Ep 22. R. A. Villanueva: chance, race and games

A thought-provoking chat with R.A. Villanueva, author of Reliquaria, after we’d seen some fantastic readings at National Poetry Day Live.

We cover plenty of ground, starting off with the influence of slam, intentional vs accidental ways of becoming a writer and the idea of priming yourself to take advantage of opportunities.

Then we get into a great discussion of race and poetry, contrasting the volume of conversations in the UK and the US and the reactions of the ‘old guard’. 

Along with Ron’s reading of Aftermaths and Fish Heads, I have a few more links to keep you busy this week:

If you’re not sure what we’re on about towards the end (when the conversation turns to video games and their relationship to poetry), check out Mario Level 1 compared to the very different worlds of Call of Duty and Journey.

Ep 21. Adrienne Rich’s anger and tenderness

‘She got swept too far. She deliberately made herself ugly and wrote those extreme and ridiculous poems.’ Adrienne Rich lived enough for at least two lifetimes and not everyone was happy about it.

Today’s episode looks at the poem Integrity from A Wild Patience Has Taken Me This Far: Poems 1978-1981. I also pull some context from Boundary Conditions: Adrienne Rich’s collected poems by Dan Chiasson and Le Ann Schreiber’s review of A Wild Patience from 1981.

Towards the end I give a shout out to Jessica Valenti and Lindy West, and read part of Lindy’s piece Donald and Billy on the Bus.


Ep 20. Sophie Mayer on the interconnectedness of everything

A few weeks ago I went along to the Free Verse Poetry Book Fair and saw the panel ‘Poetry and Politics’ with Choman Hardi, WN Herbert, RA Villanueva and Sophie Mayer. Sophie and I then took the conversation off-road.

After we cover off interconnectedness, I have a quick whinge about Carol Ann Duffy’s poem Silver Lining. We then consider whether Wordsworth was the first mansplainer, why we never hear about Mary Robinson, the workings of the poetry bubble – and that’s just the first 15 minutes.

Definitely check out Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot and I Don’t Call Myself a Poet. Towards the end Sophie reads from Blood Run by Allison Hedge Coke, looking at the last part of the poem When the Animals Leave this Place.

Film and TV-wise, we touch on She’s Beautiful When She’s AngryTransparent, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

Ep 19. Hannah Gamble and the bear of secret desires

Today I dive into my favourite poem from the last five years: Hannah Gamble’s funny and haunting Growing a Bear. I also detour into a classic Cary Tennis column: I’m going crazy in my job.

Hannah is a poetry editor for Catch Up among many other good things. Hear her discussing her work on Make (No) Bones (out of Chicago, not Brooklyn!).

(I also realised after recording that ‘the speaker’ here isn’t the man growing a bear at all, it’s someone else speaking to him/about him. So many levels!)