New Books in Poetry: If Men, Then by Eliza Griswold

if men then by eliza griswold

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Eliza Griswold about her book If Men, Then (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020).

Eliza Griswold writes in Snow in Rome, “we hate being human,/depleted by absence.” In her latest poetry collection, If Men, Then (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020), Griswold grapples with a world that is fracturing at its foundation. In this series of poems, all at once dark. humorous and questioning, the author moves from the familiar to the unjust to hope with a keen eye. She guides readers through a world that at times strips the humanness from our bones with embedded violence and disconnection, but also calls for us to reconnect by reminding us to be a bridge out among the flames.”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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New Books in Poetry: Soft Science by Franny Choi

Soft Science by Franny Choi
Author photo by Graham Cotten.

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up. I had a delightful conversation with Franny Choi about her new book Soft Science (Alice James Books 2019).

Franny Choi’s book-length collection of poetry, Soft Science, explores queer, Asian American femininity through the lens of robots, cyborgs, and artificial intelligence. As she notes in this interview, “this book is a study of softness,” exploring feeling, vulnerability, and desire. How can you be tender and still survive in a hard and violent world? What does it mean to have desire when you yourself are made into an object of desire? What does it mean to have a body that bears the weight of history? Choi’s poetry contemplates such questions through the technology of poetic form.

Here is a little snippet from our discussion, in which Choi discusses the idea of speaking for the voiceless:

Early in my writing career, I was really struck by the concept of being a voice for the voiceless. I think this has to do with being a young activist kid and realizing that having the ability to write and speak in a way that moved people was a privilege, and [I had] a desire to use that privledge for good. I think not that long after I encountered this concept it started to feel icky to want to speak for people that have mostly been called voiceless but aren’t — and [it became] much more important to highlight those voices rather than speaking for them. 

For someone who is politically minded and writer and is interested in the craft of persona work, I think it makes for a difficult space to know how to operate in, you know. So, I think that the ways I’ve tried to — at least in this book — manage that have been to kind of relocate the voiceless as a populace within myself, like what are the parts of me that feel unspoken for or unable to explain themselves through normal language. There’s a lot that is unspeakable within all of us. For me, I feel my job as a poet is to try to use poetry to use poetry to navigate those spaces.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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New Books in Poetry: Ready for the World by Becca Klaver

Ready for the World by Becca Klaver

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Becca Klaver about her book Ready for the World (Black Lawrence Press, 2020).

Becca Klaver writes in the poem ‘Hooliganism Was the Charge,’ It offered reassurance which said, “You are not alone; I can hear you.” Her forthcoming collection, Ready for the World (Black Lawrence Press 2020), reminds us that no matter the digital distance between us we are never quite alone. A collection that both casts and dispels the bindings ever present via social media, patriarchy, and our own paths to growth, this collection allows readers to blur the lines between our sometimes carefully curated online lives and the magical beings we truly are.

Part spell book and a rumination on technology, Klaver explores womanhood and feminism from a distance and up close. These poems ask for us to find a remembrance and a reconnecting. She asks in the poem ‘Manifesto of the Lyric Selfie,’ what is burning in our little hearts?, and dares us to tear down what we think we know to find what we feel.”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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New Books in Poetry: BRUTE by Emily Skaja

BRUTE by Emily Skaja

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up. I had a delightful conversation with Emily Skaja about her new book BRUTE (Graywolf Press, 2019).

Winner of the Walt Whitman Award, Emily Skaja’s BRUTE (Graywolf Press, 2019) is a stunning collection of poetry that navigates the dark corridors of trauma found at the end of an abusive relationship. “Everyone if we’re going to talk about love please we have to talk about violence,” writes Skaja in the poem “remarkable the litter of birds.” She indeed talks about the intersections of both love and violence, evoking a range of emotional experiences ranging from sorrow and loss to rage, guilt, hope, self discovery, and reinvention. These poems reflect the present moment — ripe with cell phones, social media, and technologies that shift the way humans interact with each other — while maintaining a mythic quality, with the speaker feeling like a character struggling to survive in a surreal fairytale world.

Skaja recommends: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Russel, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden, and Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.

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New Books in Poetry: Threed, This Road Not Damascus by Tamara J. Madison

Tamara J Madison-Threed This Road Not Damascus

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Tamara J. Madison about her book Threed, This Road Not Damascus (Trio House, 2019).

Athena writes:

Tamara J. Madison, both on the page and in voice, is magical. In her most recent collection, Threed, This Road Not Damascus, she seamlessly bridges the gap between past and present while remaining grounded in the here and now. Via her use of religion, familial history, and rhythm she is able to give voice to those women who oft times were forced to remain silent in order to survive. It is through her poetry that these women, and those still to come, are allowed to be wholly free. Madison creates a new mythology here. A mythology that begins to lay the groundwork for us to create the worlds in which we want to move. She leaves us with the lingering sense that the makings of the universe are in our hands. All we need to do is mold it and name it.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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