November 24, 2017 Michelle Boisseau: Past American Voice
In this interview at the Kansas City Public Library, the late Michelle Boisseau discusses her fifth book, Among the Gorgons. This poet, editor, and Guggenheim Fellow reveals how her own aging shed new light on some of the Greek mythology that inspired the Tampa Review Poetry Prize-winning collection. Also a co-author of the textbook Writing Poems, now in its eighth edition, Boisseau talks about her work as a literary citizen, and some of the poetry editing she's done with BkMk Press to help other writers hone their books. Programs with Michelle Boisseau from 1996, 2007, and 2010 are also available in our audio archives.
December 1, 2017 The World Is One Place
Writers Diane Glancy and Linda Rodriguez discuss co-editing the anthology The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East. The pair, who both have Cherokee ancestry, discuss their interest in the parallels between Native peoples of the US and the Middle East. Glancy, who visited Syria and Jordan as an Arts America Speaker for the United States Information Agency in the early 1990s, shares some of her poetry in the book and how she was compelled to write more after the start of the Syrian Civil War. She also inspired Rodriguez to write the essay that ends the poetry collection. Joined by BkMk Press Editor Ben Furnish, they reveal the impetus behind this anthology of Native American poets. An earlier program featuring some of the contributing poets reading from this collection can be found in our Audio Archives.
November 17, 2017 Deborah Miranda
Native American poet Deborah Miranda reads from her award-winning mixed-genre book Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir. She discusses the historical erasure of California Indians and their almost total decimation at the hands of colonial Spanish missionaries. Using this work as a way to piece together the fragmented culture of the California Indians, Miranda reveals how she researched this collection using her own genealogy and oral histories, as well as newspaper articles, mission records, and letters. This presentation was recorded at the University of Central Missouri’s 2016 Pleiades Visiting Writers Series.
November 10, 2017 Bonnie Bolling
Bonnie Bolling's award winning poetry collections often tackle tough subject matter, blending tragedy with beauty. The editor-in-cheif of Verdad magazine since 2006, she now divides her time between Southern California and The Persian Gulf. Bolling discusses her 2016 John Ciardi Poetry Prize winning collection, The Red Hijab, which reflects on her life in Bahrain during the 2011 uprising, and reads from her earlier book, In the Kingdom of the Sons, which won the Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry.
November 3, 2017 Geoffrey Brock and Padma Viswanathan
In the second half of this interview with poet Geoffrey Brock and novelist Padma Viswanathan, the husband and wife couple discusses their shared interest in translation. Brock reads a translation of the Italian poet Cesare Pavese from his award-winning book Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930–1950, while Viswanathan reveals how she came to discover an abiding fascination with the language, music, dance and literature of Brazil. Brock also reads more poems from his 2014 book Voices Bright Flags, winner of the ninth Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, and talks about the difference between that collection and his first book Weighing Light, winner of the 2005 Criterion poetry Prize. The first half of this interview is available in our audio archives.
October 27, 2017 Geoffrey Brock & Padma Viswanathan
In the first half of this conversation with novelist Padma Viswanathan and poet Geoffrey Brock, the husband and wife writing duo reveal how they balance their writing careers and family life. Brock reads one of his wife’s favorite poems from his Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize-winning collection, Voices Bright Flags, while Viswanathan shares pieces from her novels The of Toss of a Lemon and The Ever After of Ashwin Rao and explains the large role that research has played in her writing. She also discusses how her early career as a playwright influenced her fiction and the structure of her novels. A 2017 recipient of the Porter Fund Literary Prize, Viswanathan's translation of the novel St. Bernardo, by the late Brazilian writer Graciliano Ramos, is forthcoming from New York Review Books. This program also includes a poem from Geoffrey’s father, the late Van K. Brock, from his 2005 reading at The Writers Place in Kansas City. The second half of this interview is available in our audio archives.
October 20, 2017 Susan Aizenberg
Poet Susan Aizenberg discusses the use of fiction within poetry, admitting that she draws from real life, but notes that there is a distinction between truth and fact. Recently retired from teaching at Creighton University, she reads from her third collection, Quiet City, honored in the 2016 Nebraska Book Awards. She also discusses the anthology she co-edited called The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women and discusses winning the 2014 Mari Sandoz Award from the Nebraska Library Association.
October 13, 2017 Terrance Hayes
Award-winning poet Terrance Hayes gives insight into his creative process in this public reading as part of the 2016 Hall Center for the Humanities Lecture Series at the University of Kansas. He shares work from his fifth collection, How to Be Drawn, a finalist for both the National Book and National Book Critics Circle Awards, and winner of the NAACP Image Award for Poetry. The MacArthur fellow talks about his love of long sentences, and how he blends Shakespeare with rap references. He also tries out new poems on the audience that have since morphed into twelve published sonnets in The American Poetry Review and will be forthcoming in his 2018 book, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin. (WARNING: THIS PROGRAM CONTAINS SOME EXPLICIT LANGUAGE.)
October 6, 2017 Judith Ortiz Cofer: Past American Voice
The late Puerto Rican writer Judith Ortiz Cofer talks about how her heritage has influenced her work. This multi-genre writer of poetry, fiction, and memoir was Professor Emeritus of English and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia, when she died of cancer at the age of 65. In the second half of this 1998 conversation, she discusses the complicated issues involving Puerto Rico’s culture and the vote on statehood, which is still unresolved today. She also reads from two of her books, The Latin Deli and Reaching for the Mainland. This program also features former student and fellow Latina writer Lorraine Lopez who talks about Judith Ortiz Cofer's influence on her writing and a special November 2017 issue of the journal, The South Atlantic Review, that is dedicated entirely to her work.The first part of this Past American Voice program is available in our audio archives.
September 29, 2017 John Balaban
Discover the stories behind the poetry of John Balaban, who served as a conscientious objector in Vietnam. He returned to the country later to help war-torn children and to collect folk poems, when he discovered the work of an 18th century Vietnamese concubine who was known for her wit and poetry. He reads from his award-winning book of translations called Spring Essence, as well as from his own poetry in the book, Locusts at the Edge of Summer.
September 22, 2017 Michael Nava
As an attorney for the California Supreme Court, Michael Nava moonlighted as a novelist, authoring seven novels in the Henry Rios mystery series, six of which won the Lambda Literary Awards for Gay Men's Mystery books. (Now retired, he's reimagined the first in the series from 30 years ago into the 2016 Lay Your Sleeping Head.) His 2014 novel, The City of Palaces, breaks from these as it examines an important transitional period of Mexican history (1897-1913) that fueled a large migration to the U.S. This family saga that won a 2015 International Latino Book Award is partly inspired by Nava's own family history, and is the first in a projected historical series called The Children of Eve. He also discusses how he balanced his two worlds as a legal and creative writer.
September 15, 2017 Judith Ortiz Cofer: Past American Voice
The work of the late Judith Ortiz Cofer (1952-2016) often reflected her Puerto Rican heritage and her childhood in New Jersey. A literary pioneer for Latina writers in the U.S., she wrote 17 books of poetry, fiction, essays, and memoir, and edited and contributed to many others. A beloved professor at the University of Georgia, she was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2010 and received the 2011 Governor's Humanities Award. In this 1998 interview, the winner of Pushcart and O'Henry Prizes talks about the challenges of writing while balancing teaching and family life and reads poetry and prose from The Latin Deli. A special issue of the South Atlantic Review on her work is due out in November 2017.
September 8, 2017 John Ashbery: Past American Voice
The poet, critic, and translator John Ashbery, who died on September 3rd at age 90, won nearly every major writing award, including in a single year, the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, and National Book Critics Circle Award. Besides writing his more than two dozen books and teaching, he served as the New York State Poet Laureate from 2000 to 2003. An experimental poet, who began as a visual artist, he was influenced early on by the French surrealists and was known—despite his disdain of labels—to be part of the informal group known as the New York School of Poets and the Language Poets. In this archive 1986 program, he reads from his Selected Poems with selections ranging from prose poems to rhyming couplets in a public presentation recorded at his commencement address to students at the Kansas City Art Institute.
September 1, 2017 Natasha Trethewey
In the first part of this interview, Mississippi Poet Laureate (2012-16) and guest editor of Best American Poetry 2017, Natasha Trethewey talks about her work that deals with history, racism, and family, including her first creative non-fiction book, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Trethewey also reads from her poetry collection, Thrall, which includes an elegy for her now deceased father, the poet Eric Trethewey, in front of an audience as part of the 2015 Humanities Lecture Series at Kansas University’s Hall Center for the Humanities. New Letters on the Air also has an earlier interview that features Trethewey’s first three poetry books, including the Cave Canem Prize winning, Domestic Work, and the Pulitzer Prize winning, Native Guard. The second part of this interview and an earlier 2008 program with Natasha Trethewey are available in our audio archives.
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