Chelsea Wagenaar is the author of two collections of poetry, most recently The Spinning Place was winner of the 2018 Michael Waters Prize. Her first collection, Mercy Spurs the Bone, was selected by Philip Levine to win the 2013 Philip Levine Prize. She holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of North Texas, and currently teaches at Valparaiso University. Her recent work appears or is forthcoming in Image and The Southern Review.
streetlit bleat, coal train moving
like its own ghost along the tracks.
2:00, 3:000, my shadow sways
as I catch myself, hand on the wall,
pulled from bed by your nocturnal haunt,
you at your crib rail, blanket clutched,
more sound than body.”
— from “Night Shift”
You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.
The poetry and prose in Ivy Johnson’s Born Again (The Operating System, 2018) beautifully dives into the ecstatic expression of religious experience. With its confessional style, this collection gives power to the female voice, rending open that which would be hidden behind closed doors. The work blends sensuality and spirituality, merging the grounded reality of existing a physical body in the world with a sense of worship, prayer, and spell casting.
“I submerge my hands in ink and smear them across the wall
I cover my body in rich purple paint and rub against white paper
I place a sticker of the Virgin Mary on my bedroom window next to the fire escape
She hurts with the glow of blue frost
I race down the stairs to make snow angels in the dog-piss
Fill the silhouette of my body with marigolds”
I’m still in the process of figuring out how to be a good interview podcast host, how to shuck off my own nervousness and dig up confidence enough to feel strong in these interviews. But whatever limitations I believe I have at this moment, they are more than surpassed by the intelligence and insight of my guests so far.
The podcast is part of the New Books Network, which reaches about 30,000 people a day and listeners download over a million episodes a month. The New Books in Poetry podcast itself has been around since 2011 and has featured a variety of poets from different backgrounds. The podcast has been on a bit of a hiatus. Now, we’re excited to be starting it up again.
Athena has already completed her first episode, in which she speaks with Vernon Keeve III about his book Southern Migrant Mixtape (Nomadic Press, 2018). Of his work, she states:
Memoir comes in many forms, be it poetry or prose. Keeve’s work is a bridge between both worlds. In a manner that is simultaneously universal and intimate, his book is an unflinching view at what it is to be black, queer, disenfranchised, jubilant, and resilient. Via his deft pen, Keeve turns his focus on how his own personal history is deeply connected to, and is bolstered by, the black experience in society.
It is via this collection, Keeve hopes to create a legacy for the story of his family, his culture, and the future. As he writes in “The decomposition of Emmett,”
There is a dis- ease in the land.
This collection dissects the diss, the unease, and the sickness of American generations as a means of healing and reconciliation.