Commonplace: Conversations with Poets (and Other People)

By Rachel Zucker

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Intimate and compelling interviews by Rachel Zucker with poets and other artists. Become a Patron & support our growing podcast!

Episode Date
Episode 57: Dorothea Lasky

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet and educator Dorothea Lasky about the volume and quality of her voice, the game Kill, Marry, Fuck, rules, craft, associational thinking, obsession as a vital part of learning and creativity, preschool pedagogy, the penultimate part of poems, being only-children, witnessing one’s own life, Albert Einstein, not going to medical school, getting degrees in Education, the movie The Shining, motherhood, misogyny, Lasky’s essay “Why I am Sad,” a difficult interpersonal interaction between Rachel and Dorothea, feeling that one’s narrative is outside of motherhood, writing to the future, Lasky’s lectures and dissertation, small “c” creativity and much more.


Books by Dottie Lasky

Milk (Wave, 2018)

Rome (Liveright, 2016)

Open the Door: How to Excite Young People About Poetry (With Jesse Nathan, McSweeney’s 2013)

Thunderbird (Wave, 2012)

Black Life (Wave, 2010)

Awe (Wave, 2007)

Matter: A Picturebook (Argos, 2012)

Poetry is Not a Project (Ugly Duckling Presse)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Sheila Heti’s Motherhood (Henry Holt, 2018)

Brenda Shaughnessy’s Our Andromeda (Copper Canyon, 2012)

Joshua Beckman

Bernadette Mayer

Alice Notley

Other Relevant Links


Heidi Broadhead

Carlina Rinaldi and Reggio Emilia  

Steven Seidel and Shari Tishman at Harvard Graduate School of Education

The Shining

Woman Writer and Writer Mother: A Conversation Between Sarah Manguso and Rachel Zucker (published by Candor Magazine)

Aug 15, 2018
Episode 56: Jennifer Kronovet

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet and translator Jennifer Kronovet about translating the Chinese poet Liu Xia, choosing a pseudonym, the ethics of translation, negotiating appropriation, how to engage other cultures when you’re not from that culture, translating Yiddish poet Celia Dropkin, how to pull an older work into the present, being a Jew in Berlin, learning a new language to find your own lineage, an amazing coincidence about a small town in Romania, Paul Celan, Charles K. Bliss, a perfect language you can’t speak, language diversity, kung fu, writing a sci-fi novel, the body, prepositions, the Sapir Worth Hypothesis, mother-linguists, raising children in another country and language, being with someone who is learning to talk, the trucks in China, and much more.

Extra Resources for Episode 56

Books by Jennifer Kronovet

The Wug Test (Ecco, 2016)

Case Study: With (Above/Ground Press, 2015)

Empty Chairs (co-translator, with Ming Di, as Jennifer Stern, Graywolf, 2015)

Awayward (BOA Editions, 2009)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (HMH Books for Young Readers, re-printed in 2011)

The Diary of Anne Frank

Metaphors We Live By by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson (University of Chicago Press, 2003)

Alphabet by Ingrid Christensen (New Directions, 2001)

Liu Xia

Liu Xiaobo

Jeffrey Yang

Lucas Klein

Paul Auster

Celia Dropkin

Faith Jones and Sam Solomon, co-translators of Dropkin

Paul Celan

C.S. Giscombe

Monica de la Torre

Lupe Gomez

Don Mee Choi

Wang Jiaxin

Other Relevant Links

“Jennifer Kronovet studied Yiddish so she could communicate with the dead”, by Patrick Cox via PRI

The Wug Test (the actual test, not Jenny’s book)

PEN America

Asymptote Journal

Circumference Magazine

Circumference Books

Hopscotch Bookstore/Reading Room


“Hey Allen Ginsberg Where Have You Gone and What Would You Think of my Drugs?” by Rachel Zucker

Diane Wolkstein discussing her work on Monkey King: Journey to the West on Radio National (Australia)

Charles K Bliss

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis

George Lakoff

“Variations on the Right to Remain Silent” by Anne Carson, from A Public Space, Issue 7

Dan Visel

Stephania Heim

Anonymous Sources” by Eliot Weinberger


Jul 26, 2018
Episode 55: Anne Waldman

Rachel Zucker speaks with Anne Waldman about Allen Ginsberg, “being on the job,” mantra, embodiment, the refugee vow, gender, the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, archive, undertaking a long project, her insatiable curiosity, Balinese dolls, ritual, patriarchy, the maternal imagination and so much more.

Extra Resources for Episode 55

Books by Anne Waldman (In Print)

Trickster Feminism (Penguin, 2018)

Voice’s Daughter of a Heart Yet to be Born (Coffee House Press, 2016)

Gossamurmur (Penguin, 2013)

The Iovis Trilogy (Coffee House Press, 2011)

Manatee/Humanity (Penguin, 2009)

In the Room of Never Grieve (Coffee House Press, 2008)

First Baby Poems (BlazeVOX, 2008)

Outrider (Alameda, 2006)

Structure of the World Compared to a Bubble (Penguin, 2004)

Vow to Poetry (Coffee House Press, 2001)

Fast Speaking Woman (City Lights, 2001)

Marriage: A Sentence (Penguin, 2000)

Kill or Cure (Penguin, 1994)

Helping the Dreamer (Coffee House Press, 1989)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood (New Directions, 2006)

Alice Notley’s Descent of Alette (Penguin Poets, 1996)

Brion Gysin’s Let the Mice In (Something Else Press, 1973)

Cross Worlds: Transcultural Poetics: An Anthology (Coffee House Press, 2014)

William S. Burroughs

John Giorno

Diane diPrima

Joanne Kyger

Gertrude Stein

Ted Berrigan

Frank O’Hara

Donald Hall

Joe Brainard

Clark Coolidge

Vladimir Mayakovsky

Other Relevant Links

Patchin Place

Naropa Poetics Audio Archive

Library of Congress

Extinction Aria at the Garrison Institute

Jul 11, 2018
Episode 54: Gerald Stern

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, essayist and educator Gerald Stern about his new poems, his old poems, Tourette Syndrome, keeping in touch with students, the Iowa Writers Workshop, teaching, place, memory, writing (not nice things about) living or identifiable people, Jewish identity and much more.

Extra Materials for Episode 54

Books by Gerald Stern

Galaxy Love (W. W. Norton, 2017)

Divine Nothingness (W. W. Norton, 2016)

Death Watch: A View from the Tenth Decade (Trinity University Press, 2017)

This Time (Vaso Roto, 2014)

Stealing History (Trinity University Press, 2012)

In Beauty Bright (W. W. Norton, 2012)

Early Collected Poems (W. W. Norton, 2010)

What I Can’t Bear Losing: Essays (Trinity University Press, 2009)

The Preacher: A Poem (Sarabande, 2007)

Everything is Burning (W. W. Norton, 2006)

American Sonnets (W. W. Norton, 2003)

Last Blue (W. W. Norton, 2001)

This Time: New and Selected Poems (W. W. Norton, 1999)

Lucky Life (Carnegie Mellon, 1995)

Bread Without Sugar (W. W. Norton, 1993)

Other Books/Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Terrance Hayes

Anne Marie Macari

Ross Gay

Thomas Lux

Marvin Bell

Brenda Hillman

Robert Hass

Jorie Graham

Heather McHugh

Bob Perelman

Lucy Biederman

James Schuyler

Ezra Pound

Matthew Rohrer

Robert Lowell

Allen Tate

ee cummings

Jun 27, 2018
Episode 53: Tommy Pico

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Tommy Pico about his first three books: IRL, Nature Poem, and Junk. Pico talks about epic cycles, the birdsong, growing up on a Kumeyaay reservation, becoming a poet, the culture shock and class shock of going to college in the Northeast, deciding not to go to medical school, training himself to become a performer, his influences and the teachers who helped him stop taking the easy way out and write longer work, learning to write no matter what, letting his voice open up, going from being unknown except in the world of local readings and zines to a headliner reading to a packed house, the craft, form and function of his books, the importance of being alone, the reason he loves long poems, experiments in screenwriting, genre, traveling for work, his podcast Food 4 Thot and so much more.

Extra Materials for Episode 53


Books by Tommy Pico

Junk (Tin House, 2018)

Nature Poem (Tin House, 2017)

IRL (Birds LLC, 2016)


Other Writers and Books Mentioned in the Episode

William Carlos Williams’ Paterson (New Directions, 1995)

Robert Graves’ The White Goddess (FSG, 2013)

Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf, 2004)

Maggie Nelson’s Jane (Soft Skull, 2013)

Alice Notley’s The Descent of Alette (Penguin, 1996)

The Monster at the End of this Book (Golden Books, 2003)

Morgan Parker

Kathleen Ossip

Sam Ross

Jason Koo

Pamela Sneed

Ariana Reines

Natalie Eilbert

Sasha Fletcher

Ocean Vuong

Sampson Starkweather

June Jordan

Natalie Diaz

Simone White

Paul Muldoon

Mary Ruefle

“Ode on a Grecian Urn” by John Keats


Other Relevant Links


FEED (High Line installation)

Soft Skull Press

Ugly Duckling Presse

Bird Song Collective

Birds LLC


Food 4 Thot

Gramma Poetry


Jun 13, 2018
Episode 52: Richard Siken

Host Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Richard Siken, author of Crush and War of the Foxes and publisher and poetry editor at Spork Press. They talk about his current five-book project, the restrictions he uses in each book during its composition, how these restrictions can help him avoid repetition, strategies inherent in poetry, rhetoric and discourse, Siken's rules for editing, not naming names, the idea and (f)utility of art therapy, teaching, the job market, the logistics and economics of for-profit-publishing, and family.

Extra Materials for Episode 52

Books by Richard Siken

Crush (Yale University Press, 2005)

War of the Foxes (Copper Canyon, 2015)

Other Writers and Books Mentioned in the Episode

Paul Legault

Dorothy Chan

Dalton Day

Kathleen Rooney

Gary J. Shipley

Abraham Smith

Scott McWaters

Other Relevant Links

John Cage

Dennis Cooper’s George Miles Cycle

Gertrude Stein

Drew Burk

May 23, 2018
Episode 51: TC Tolbert

Host Rachel Zucker talks with poet and educator TC Tolbert (author of Gephyromania and co-editor of Troubling the Line) about a car accident that changed the course of his writing life, the process of healing, learning to love the smallest things, having to ask someone to carry your weight, speaking to a younger self and coming out as trans. They talk about teaching, wanting to go back to school, and about the Bagley Wright Lecture Series conference at University of Arizona.


Books by TC Tolbert

Gephyromania (Ahsahta Press, 2014)

Conditions/Conditioning (New Lights Press, 2014)

I: Not He: Not I (Pitymilk Press, 2014)

Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics (Editor, Nightboat Books, 2013)

spirare (Belladonna* chaplet 2012)

Territories of Folding (Kore Press, 2011)

Other Writers, Artists and Books Mentioned in the Episode

Srikanth Reddy

Simone Weil

Khadijah Queen’s Fearful Beloved (Argos Books, 2015)


bell hooks

Louise Simpson’s Islands of Decolonial Love (ARP Books/AK Press, 2013)

Other Relevant Links

TC's Author Bio (third tab)

AWP Panel: In Whose Image: Trans and Genderqueer Writers on Magic, Spirituality, and (the Bodies of) G-d (feat. TC, CA Conrad, Joy Ladin, Ryka Aoki, Ian Ellasante)

Haiku Zine: Rinky Dink Press

Outward Bound

Casa Libre — literary arts nonprofit

University of Arizona

OSU Cascades

Poetry Center in Tucson


May 11, 2018
Episode 50: Inside Commonplace

For this special “Inside Commonplace” episode, Rachel Zucker speaks with her son Judah, her mentee Yanyi, and her husband Joshua Goren. These conversations help Rachel examine the history of Commonplace and reveal more about her work, her personal life, and the pleasures and challenges of making this podcast. Rachel and her guests (or is it the other way around?) discuss teaching, gender, listening, marriage, mental health, privilege, and much more

Apr 26, 2018
Episode 49: CAConrad

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet CAConrad about their Somatic poetry rituals, their childhood in rural Western Pennsylvania, becoming an avid reader, running away from home, the AIDS epidemic, writing The Book of Frank over an 18 year period, anti-efficiency, marketing research, the 1998 murder of CA’s boyfriend, Earth, using a somatic ritual to cure a pernicious depression, and CA’s recently published book, While Standing In Line for Death. CAConrad describes their writing process, how to get ahead of one’s internal editor, revision, combating misogyny, animal rights activism, ACT UP, ecological disaster, ecopoetics, the vibrational absence of extinct species being replaced by the din of humanity, white rhinos, Walmart, the end of empire, teaching, the myth of writer’s block, how to write inside the hardest things, roadkill memorials, being alone, and accepting the elements.


Books by CAConrad

While Standing in Line for Death (Wave Books, 2017)

Supplication: Selected Poems of John Wieners (Wave Books, 2015)

ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (Wave Books, 2014)

A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics (Wave Books, 2012)

The Book of Frank (Wave Books, 2010)

Advanced Elvis Course (Soft Skull Press, 2009)

Other Writers/Artists/Makers Mentioned in the Episode

Peter Gizzi

Angela Hume

Jonathan Skinner

Amy King

Brenda Hillman

Heidi Lynn Staples

Charlotte Delbo

Louis Aragon

Margaret Randall

Emily Dickinson

Frank Sherlock

Denise Levertov

Shanna Compton

Julian Talamantez Brolaski

Cedar Sigo

Jeff Clark

Other Relevant Links

The Book of Conrad [film]

Massachusetts Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Veto Referendum

HB2 Laws

“Warning of 'ecological Armageddon' after dramatic plunge in insect numbers” in The Guardian

Conference on Ecopoetics at Berkeley, California

Free Library of Philadelphia

Tucson Poetry Festival

Wheaton College

The MacDowell Colony

bloof books

Bruce Lee

Lambda Literary Awards

Lighthouse Writers Workshop

Apr 04, 2018
Episode 48: Poets at MacDowell: Destiny Birdsong, Juleen Johnson, Jenny George, Eloisa Amezcua, & Amanda Galvan Huynh

Host Rachel Zucker talks with poets Destiny Birdsong, Juleen Johnson, Jenny George, Eloisa Amezcua, and Amanda Galvan Huynh in Savage Library at MacDowell Artist Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

They talk about their particular interests—writing about women of color, writing about place, writing from unknowing or from knowing to unknowing, writing about the relationship between humans and animals, working with found texts, writing about assimilation and loss of culture, bi-linguality—and about their shared experiences at MacDowell. They offer advice for folks who might be headed to a residency, talk about various writing processes, and about what was wonderful and what was challenging about being at the residency including their feelings about being selected and about the selection process and not having to do the kind of labor one does in normal life.

Extra Materials for Episode 48

MacDowell Fellows in this Episode

Eloisa Amezcua

Destiny Birdsong

Jenny George

Amanda Galvan Huynh

Juleen Johnson

Other MacDowell Fellows who were there at the same time as we were, some of whom we mention in this episode—all of whom were important in our work:

Koji Nakano

Greg Marshall

Alexandria Smith

Dahlia Elsayed

Marc Ohrem-Leclef

Maude Mitchelland Lee Bruer

Uchenna Awoke

Justin Sherin

Haruko Tanaka

Andrew May

Joyce Zonana

Janie Geiser

Mona Mansour

Erik den Breejen

Edgar Kunz

Jonathan Berger

Erin M. Riley

Mar 21, 2018
Episode 47: Erin Riley

Host Rachel Zucker talks with textile artist Erin Riley about how she started weaving, the importance of making work no one saw, promiscuity, risky behavior, addiction, how her work became more detailed and came to have more depth, learning things without learning them, pornography, selfies, the loss of meaning when images are repeated, slowing down, being deliberate, girlhood obsession with one’s body, yeast infections, UTIs, menstruation, using images of her own body in her tapestries, tattoos, long distance image-based relationships, the mental and physical stamina required to make tapestry, the pleasure of making tapestry, ego, velcro, labor, deliberately choosing not to do something in a traditional mode and the pushback from people who like to tell other people how to do things “right,” not behaving, non-erotic nudity, trichotillomania, representing things in tapestry, the mediation of reality that tapestry affords, the strength of vulnerability, dick pics, privacy, dildos, how skill can restrict the content, how to keep work from getting stagnant, not feeling responsible for other artist fellows and other wonderful things about meeting and being at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire.


Erin Riley’s CV and portfolio can be accessed here

Other Artists, Writers, Places, Schools and Makers Mentioned on the Episode

The MacDowell Colony

Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Tyler School of Art at Temple University



Mar 07, 2018
Episode 46: Allison Parrish

Host Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, programmer and professor, Allison Parrish. They talk about Articulations, Parrish’s first book of poetry, why she wanted to publish a book, “the threat of permanence,” Allison’s background in linguistics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and how she made the poems in Articulations. They discuss phonemes, word vectors, semantic and phonetic similarity and proximity, and the post-processing procedures she used, as well as the ways in which computer-generated language is the same or different from “intention-typical poetry.” They also discuss J.R.R Tolkien and Gertrude Stein, not being very interested in narrative, and what Parrish hopes practitioners of computer-generated poetry will do next and what she hopes they will not do.


Books by Allison Parrish

Articulations (Counterpath, 2018)

Allison’s massive list of completed, ongoing and upcoming projects can be found on her website!

Other Books and Writers/Makers Mentioned in the Episode

Chase Berggrun’s R E D (Birds LLC, 2017)

HOME/BIRTH by Arielle Greenberg and Rachel Zucker (CreateSpace, 2017)

Virtual Muse by Charles Hartman (Wesleyan, 1996)

Louis Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers (Stinehour Press, 1978)

Reading Zukofsky’s 80 Flowers by Michele Joy Leggott (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989)

Gertrude Stein

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg (Shambhala, 2005)

Alison Knowles’ House of Dust

Nick Monfort

Daniel Shiffman

Emily Short’s Interactive Storytelling

Ronald Johnson

J. R. R. Tolkien

Jackson Mac Low

Other Relevant Links

Counterpath Press’s Using Electricity series

Project Gutenberg

National Novel Generation Month

Joshua Goren


Feb 14, 2018
Episode 45: Tyehimba Jess

Rachel Zucker talks with poet Tyehimba Jess about his Pulitzer-prize-winning book, Olio. They talk about Scott Joplin, Henry Box Brown, Blind Boone, Blind Tom, Millie and Christine McCoy Twins, Edmonia Lewis, the Fisk Jubilee singers and the other historical figures in Jess’ book. They talk about minstrelsy, captivity, agency, wonder and play, and about the forms of the poems within the book including syncopated or contrapuntal sonnets, ghazal, golden shovel and other, and the unusual physical properties of the book. Jess talks about what it was like to write Olio, about having 11 years between his first two books, getting a handshake from Yusef Komunyakaa, living in Brooklyn and working on Staten Island, the tenure clock, trying live up to the challenges and expectations of an earlier project, growing up Catholic, his experience at Cave Canem, meeting Gwendolyn Brooks and being encouraged by her, and so much more.


Extra Materials for Episode 45

Books by Tyehimba Jess

Olio (Wave Books, 2016)

Leadbelly (National Poetry Series/Wave Books, 2005)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Gwendolyn Brooks

Langston Hughes

Haki R. Madhubuti

Terrance Hayes

Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely (Graywolf, 2004)

Yusef Komunyakaa’s Neon Vernacular (Wesleyan, 1993)

The Black Poets Anthology, edited by Dudley Randall (Bantam, 1985)

Eve Ewing

Danez Smith

Franny Choi

Taylor Mali

Cornelius Eady’s poem, “Gratitude”  

Other Relevant Links

Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

Reading at the 92nd Street Y (with Robert Creeley), New York, NY, 1986

Tyehimba speaking at TedXNashville

Wave Books

VS podcast

Eric Garner

Everything Goes Book Store & Cafe in Tompkinsville, Staten Island

College of Staten Island faculty: Patricia Smith and Cate Marvin

Page Meets Stage, hosted by Taylor Mali and featuring Jess & Komunyakaa:

Jan 31, 2018
Episode 44: Matthew Zapruder

Rachel Zucker speaks to poet, prose writer professor, editor, publisher, Matthew Zapruder, an hour after his interview on Leonard Lopate Show, about Ai Weiwei, Tracey Ullman, and being a Commonplace listener. Zucker and Zapruder discuss their relationship as writer-editor, how Matthew appears in Rachel’s poems, power, sharing work with friends and trusted readers, the history of Wave Books, the Poetry Bus, why Matthew wrote Why Poetry?, Matthew’s relationship with his father and his father’s death, how to include not-knowingness, the kind of thinking you can only do in poems, having to say no to things, trying to do less and becoming less of a public person. Matthew reads from Why Poetry? and a new poem from an unpublished manuscript.


Books by Matthew Zapruder

Why Poetry? (Ecco, 2017)

Sun Bear (Copper Canyon, 2014)

Come On All You Ghosts (Copper Canyon, 2010)

Secret Weapon: Selected Late Poems of Eugen Jebeleanu (translations by Matthew Zapruder) (Coffee House Press, 2008)

The Pajamaist (Copper Canyon, 2006)

American Linden (Tupelo, 2002)

Other Writers and Books Mentioned in the Episode

Matthew Rohrer

Joshua Beckman

Brian Henry

Travis Nichols

Frank O’Hara’s Personism

Marina Tsvetaeva

Other Relevant Links

Posman Books

Ai Weiwei

Tracey Ullman

Jeff Shotts

Michael Wiegers

Charlie Wright

Heidi Broadhead

KGB Bar Poetry Series

Verse Press / Wave Books


Jan 10, 2018
Episode 43: Airea D. Matthews

Rachel Zucker talks with Airea D. Matthews about her new book, Simulacra, and about (not)understanding, poems as places to show what you (don’t)know, reading, poetry as a place to ask questions and have a conversation, ordering a manuscript, getting help with a manuscript-in-progress, burning a manuscript, kicking the voices out of one’s head to find one’s voice, self as relatable through the other, representation, the connective tissue of humanity, helping a reader become accustomed to uncertainty, kitchen-sink stew, a nervous breakdown, the psychiatric ER, writing in series, strangeness, the canon, different kinds of lineage (Anne Sexton, Gertrude Stein, Wittgenstein and others), the role of biography, not writing about race, how to signal race to the reader, not writing about motherhood, the unknowability or secrecy of motherhood, growing up with liars, the difference between lies and secrets, hunger, weakness, not idealizing mental illness, mothering yourself, worrying about being a good enough mother, gender, loving across difference or sameness, and what Airea is working on now. The first half of this episode is a recording of a question-and-answer session in Rachel’s class; the second is the conversation just between Airea and Rachel that they recorded later the same day.


Books by Airea D. Matthews

Simulacra (Yale University Press / Yale Series of Younger Poets, 2017)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Anne Sexton

Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons (Dover Publications, 1997 reprint)

Carl Phillips (as a poet and as the editor of Yale Younger)

Carl Phillips’s essay “A Politics of Mere Being”

Leonora Carrington


Jean-Paul Sartre


Bertrand Russell

Rachel McKibbens’ Blud (Copper Canyon, 2017)

Paul Celan

Anna Ahkmatova

Amiri Baraka

Robert Hayden


Jean Baudrillard

Roland Barthes

Adrienne Rich



Descent of Alette

Dec 21, 2017
Episode 42: Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Rachel Zucker talks with poet, editor, professor Gabrielle Calvocoressi, author of three full length collections, most recently Rocket Fantastic, about her new book. They also talk about wanting things, reading in New York, God, prayer, nystagmus (a neurological eye condition), practicing Judaism (but not converting to Judaism) in Los Angeles and in the South, gender identity, gender expression, sexual fantasies, gayness and queerness, butch lesbianism, bros, the symbol she uses in Rocket Fantastic instead of a gendered pronoun and how she reads that symbol, having and recovering from a nervous breakdown and panic attacks, mental health, not seeking out trouble, getting to know the animal you are, envy, jealousy, the granting and prize system in poetry, ambition, unionizing poets, and being honest.


Books by Gabrielle Calvocoressi


Rocket Fantastic (Persea, 2017)

Apocalyptic Swing (Persea, 2012)

The Last Time I Saw Amelia Earhart (Persea, 2005)

Other Writers and Artists Mentioned in the Episode

Lorine Niedecker


Ross Gay

Adrian Matejka

Bob Bledsoe

Romayne Rubinas Dorsey

Gabriel Fried

Dana Levin

Other Relevant Links

The Stegner Fellowship

The Jones Lectureship at Stanford University

Lannan Foundation

Indiana University - Bloomington English and Writing Program

Vermont Studio Center

Jon Kabat-Zinn (Mindfulness Stress reduction program)

the lesbian avengers



Text of the Rosh Hashanah sermon by Rabbi Tom Gutherz that Rachel heard while in Charlottesville, VA

Ikar— Jewish group in LA

Voluble Lab

Dec 06, 2017
Episode 41: Danez Smith

Rachel Zucker talks with Danez Smith, author of [insert] boy and Don’t Call Us Dead (recently shortlisted for the National Book Award) about confessional-testimonial poems, sonnets, essential poems, poets and books, Cave Canem, the MFA industrial complex, not feeling desired, depression, community, living and learning, Minneapolis, living as a full-time artist, their writing space, hanging out with grandma, HIV+ diagnosis, Danez’s new poems, writing a time travel novel, play, getting over imposter syndrome, and the challenges and pleasures of working on a third book after two early successes. Towards the end of the episode Danez reads two new poems.


Books by Danez Smith

Don't Call Us Dead

[insert] boy

When Young Folks Ask Danez Who They Should Be Reading:

Morgan Parker

Kaveh Akbar

Eve Ewing

Javier Zamora’s Unaccompanied (Copper Canyon, 2017)

Rachel McKibbins’ Blud (Copper Canyon, 2017)

Anais Duplan

Shane McCrae’s In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan, 2017)

Chen Chen’s When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, 2017)

Shira Erlichman

Angel Nafis

Franny Choi

Joshua Jennifer Espinoza  

“Older” Poets/Books That Danez Loves:

James Baldwin

Ross Gay

Aracelis Girmay

DA Powell

Sharon Olds

Cornelius Eady

Gwendolyn Brooks

Terrance Hayes’ Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006)

Other Essential Books for Danez:

Essex Hemphill’s Ceremonies (Plume, 1992)

Jericho Brown’s Please (New Issues Press, 2008)

Lucille Clifton’s Collected (BOA Editions, 2012)

Cornelius Eady’s Brutal Imagination (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2001)

Li-Young Lee’s Rose (BOA Editions, 1993)

Cave Canem

Terrance Hayes

Toi Derricotte

Cornelius Eady

Chris Abani

Patricia Smith

Tim Seibles

Nikky Finney

Natasha Tretheway

Claudia Rankine

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Angela Thomas

Philip B. Williams (first mentor at Cave Canem)

Nate Marshall

Angel Nafis

Morgan Parker

Charif Shanahan

Nabila Lovelace, The Conversation (with Aziza Barnes)

Other Important Links/Artists/Organizations

Sun Ra

Frank Ocean

Youth Speaks — Brave New Voices


Nov 15, 2017
Episode 40: Kaveh Akbar

Rachel Zucker speaks with Kaveh Akbar about his first full-length poetry collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf. They talk about recovery, addiction, Ellen Bryant Voigt’s unpunctuated line, teaching, his writing process for poetry or prose, the hutzpah and/or cluelessness that enabled him to reach out to established poets, the founding and process of running (Kaveh’s interview site), the art of interviewing, using poetry to press the pleasure button, social media, white poets writing about whiteness, writing to delight, writing with compassion, his poem “Heritage” (about Reyhaneh Jabbari), the potential violence of erasure poems, and the intersection of power and poetry.


Books by Kaveh Akbar

Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James, 2017)

Portrait of the Alcoholic (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Ellen Bryant Voigt’s Headwaters (W.W. Norton, 2014)

The Rag-Picker's Guide to Poetry: Poems, Poets, Process (University of Michigan Press, 2013)

Robert Olen Butler’s Severance (Chronicle Books, 2008)

Lauren Oliver’s ROOMS (Ecco, 2015)

Tom Phillips’ A Humument (Thames and Hudson, 2017)

Charles Reznikoff’s Testimony (Black Sparrow Press, 2015)

Lauren Whitehead

Ross Gay

WS Merwin

Jean Valentine

Li-Young Lee

Jorie Graham

Lucille Clifton

Lucie Brock-Broido

Zbigniew Herbert

Chris Forhan

Dan Barden

Yusef Komunyakaa

Franz Wright

Robert Bly

Afaa Michael Weaver

Dorianne Laux

Fady Joudah

Sharon Olds

Philip Metres

Ilya Kaminsky

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Jake Adam York

Adrian Matejka

John Berryman

Robert Lowell

Bob Hicok

Tarfia Faizullah

Solmaz Sharif

Robin Coste Lewis

Major Jackson “A Mystifying Silence: Big and Black”

Other Relevant Materials

Paige Lewis

Butler University MFA

The Quirk

All Up in Your Ears (Jonathan Farmer, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, francine j. Harris and Kaveh Akbar)

Poets House

Sarah Miller Freehauf

Kaveh writing about his poem “Heritage” on Poetry Society

Transcription of the final voice message of Reyhaneh Jabbari

Kenneth Goldsmith

Vanessa Place

Eula Biss talking about opportunity hoarding on the podcast The Longest Shortest Time

Sandra Bland

Nov 02, 2017
Episode 39: Erika L. Sánchez

Rachel Zucker speaks with Erika L. Sánchez about her first book of poems, her first YA novel (currently shortlisted for the National Book Award), her experience as a sex advice columnist, how her manuscript became a book, writing unlikeable characters, shame, obsessions, sex, making things up in poems and prose, authenticity, feminism, Buddhism, and DACA.


Books by Erika L. Sánchez

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Knopf, 2017)

Lessons on Expulsion (Graywolf, 2017)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Dana Levin

Morgan Parker

Jennifer Tamayo

Danez Smith’s Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf, 2017)

“Anastasia & Sandman” by Larry Levis from Elegy

Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark (Haymarket, 2016)

Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown, 2009)

Celia Perez’s The First Rule of Punk (Viking Books, 2017)

Other Relevant Links

Canto Mundo

Middlebury Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences

Judithe Hernández

Lisa Simpson

Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships

Stavanger International Festival of Literature and Freedom of Speech

2013 was a big year for feminism, but the movement still alienates minorities published by The Guardian

Fornicating While Latina: Why I Was Deeply Ashamed of Sex and How I Got Over It published by AlterNet

Oct 18, 2017
Episode 38: Sharon Olds

Rachel Zucker talks to acclaimed, award winning poet Sharon Olds about dope, talking nicely to yourself when you’re alone, noticing one’s tiniest thoughts, the advantages of being an “ordinary enough” person, Brenda Hillman and Community of Writers (formerly known as Squaw Valley), teaching, the rhythm of writing, Odes, sharing poems, being truthful, Galway Kinnell, how to deal with bad reviews, how to deal with praise, envy, talent, self-esteem, jealousy, heteromania, eros, intimacy, anger, dancing, parent-child separation and so much more.


Books by Sharon Olds

Odes (Knopf, 2016)

Stag’s Leap (Knopf, 2012)

One Secret Thing (Knopf, 2008)

Strike Sparks: Selected Poems, 1980-2002 (Knopf, 2004)

The Unswept Room (Knopf, 2002)

Blood, Tin, Straw (Knopf, 1999)

The Wellspring (Knopf, 1996)

The Father (Knopf, 1992)

The Sign of Saturn (Secker and Warburg, 1991)

The Matter of This World (Slow Dancer Press, 1987)

The Gold Cell (Knopf, 1987)

The Dead and the Living (Knopf, 1983)

Satan Says (Pitt Poetry Series, 1980)

Other Writers and Books  Mentioned in the Episode

Faculty of Community of Writers (formerly known as Squaw Valley Writer’s Conference): Brenda Hillman, Forrest Gander, Francisco Alarcón, Gregory Pardlo

Galway Kinnell

Sylvia Plath

Anne Sexton

Audre Lorde

Muriel Rukeyser

Donna Seaman

Toi Derricotte

Other Relevant Links and Resources

The Bachelorette (TV show)

Pinchas Zukerman

Itzhak Perlman

Isaac Stern

Yo Yo Ma

Community of Writers (formerly known as Squaw Valley)

Dr. Debra Cohan

Whitney Museum

Tom Waits

Oct 04, 2017
Episode 37: Sheila Heti and Sarah Manguso

Rachel Zucker talks with Sheila Heti and Sarah Manguso about literary friendship, Sarah’s two recent books, Sheila’s manuscript in progress, maternal ambivalence, uncertainty, sacrifice of self, envy, curiosity, being a daughter, attachment and unattachment, shame, the sickening state of wondering whether or not to have children, abandonment, money, the things we cannot choose, choosing intolerable feelings, whiteness, class, the poetics of motherhood, purity, polluted writing, and motherhood as a sexuality category.



Books by Sheila Heti

Motherhood (Henry Holt & Co., 2018)

All Our Happy Days Are Stupid (McSweeney’s Publishing, 2015)

Women in Clothes (Blue Rider Press, 2014), edited with Heidi Julavits and Leanna Shapton

The Middle Stories (McSweeney’s Publishing, 2012)

How Should a Person Be? (Henry Holt & Co., 2012)

We Need A Horse (Mcsweeney’s McMullens, 2011)

The Chairs Are Where the People Go (FSG, 2011)

Ticknor (FSG, 2006)

Books by Sarah Manguso


300 Arguments (Graywolf, 2017)

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (Graywolf, 2015)

The Guardians: An Elegy (FSG, 2012)

The Two Kinds of Decay (FSG, 2008)

Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape (McSweeney's Books, 2007)


Siste Viator (Four Way Books, 2006)

The Captain Lands in Paradise (Alice James Books, 2002)


Other Books, Writers & Artists Mentioned in the Episode

Molly Peacock

Amanda Stern


David Lehman

Cynthia Ozick

Carmen Giménez Smith

Eula Biss

Annie Dillard

Maggie Nelson

Heidi Julavits

Carrot Top by Jules Renard (FSG, 1975)

Paradise, Piece by Piece by Molly Peacock (Riverhead, 1998)

100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl (FSG, 2015)

Museum of Accidents by Rachel Zucker (Wave Books, 2009)


Other Relevant Links

Sheila Heti interviews Wayne Koestenbaum, Matthew Rohrer & Rachel Zucker for The Believer

Conversation between Rachel and Sarah about motherhood in Candor Magazine

Video of Rachel giving birth to her son Judah

Sarah Manguso’s essay, The Great Shattering, in Harper’s Magazine

from A Kentucky of Mothers by Dana Ward

Sep 19, 2017
Episode 36: Dialogue Arts Project

Rachel Zucker speaks with Adam Falkner, Lauren Whitehead and Carlos Andrés Gómez about their involvement with the Dialogue Arts Project, a non-profit, arts-based organization in which artist-facilitators help schools, businesses and organizations communicate more effectively across lines of social identity and difference. These three amazing artists talk about how working with DAP has affected their creative work, their teaching, their lives and their priorities. They talk about how a workshop model can be used in schools, offices, and organizations to reimagine and revitalize diversity education, the power of performance and first-person narratives, guidelines for encouraging openness and risk taking, how to invite vulnerability into the classroom in responsible ways, culture-based intentionality, the permission to start with the self, how and why to step out onto the vulnerable edge in order to dismantle the master’s house, coming out, seasonal personal and political grief, and visions for expanding the DAP’s reach.


The Dialogue Arts Project is:

Adam Falkner

Lauren Whitehead

Carlos Andrés Gémez

Jon Sands

Aaron Samuels

Nate Marshall

Elana Bell

Samantha Thornhill

Aziza Barnes

Geoff Kagan-Trenchard

José Olivarez

Caroline Rothstein

Books by Dialogue Arts Project Fellows

Geoff Kagan Trenchard’s Murder Stay Murder (Penmanship Books, 2012)

Aziza Barnes’ i be, but i ain’t (YesYes Books, 2016), me Aunt Jemima and the nailgun (Button Poetry)

Carlos Andres Gomez’s Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood (Gotham Books, 2012)

Jon Sands’ The New Clean (Write Bloody Publishing, 2011)

Nate Marshall’s Wild Hundreds (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)

Other Writers, Books and Artists Mentioned in the Episode

BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop, edited by Nate Marshall (Haymarket, 2015)

Other Relevant Links

Audre Lorde

The Goonies

Jeff Kass, Adam’s teacher

The National Intergroup Dialogue Institute at University of Michigan

Claudia Rankine on Microaggressions, Racism and White Privilege

Ilana Stein, doula

Programs for Cross Cultural Awareness at University of Pennsylvania  

The Program on Intergroup Relations at the University of Michigan

Sep 05, 2017
Episode 35: Aracelis Girmay

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Aracelis Girmay about creating new forms and structures, employing fragments, the time it takes to get to urgent questions, research, patience, appreciating snails with Kamau Brathwaite, menarche, estrangement, pregnancy, naming, our fathers and families, worrying about doing harm in poems, effort, June Jordan, Ross Gay, writing about family, history, avoiding and countering the language of violence and brutality, writing long poems and find ways to express anger and rage without adopting the language of tyranny and oppression.


Books by Aracelis Girmay

The Black Maria (BOA Editions, 2016)

Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011)

Teeth (Curbstone, 2007)

Changing, Changing (George Braziller, 2005)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Monticello in Mind: Fifty Contemporary Poems on Jefferson by Lisa Russ Spaar (University of Virginia Press, 2016)

Kamau Brathwaite

June Jordan

Ross Gay

James Baldwin

Joy Harjo

Shane McCrae

Other Relevant Links

Dodge Poetry Festival

Poetry Society of America: Aracelis Girmay (New American Poets)

End of Kingdom Animalia — “Ars Poetica”

Interview with Rosa Alcalá and Eduardo C. Corral  

Arielle’s Greenberg’s article in American Poetry Review on Shane McCrae

Aracelis’s poem “You Are Who I Love,” written for Split this Rock

Review of Aracelis’ book The Black Maria by Tara Betts in APR

Poetry Society of America, Latino/a Poetry Now: 3 poets discuss their art (Aracelis Girmay, Rosa Alcalá, Eduardo C. Corral


Aug 15, 2017
Episode 34: Dr. Joshua Bennett

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, performer, educator and scholar Dr. Joshua Bennett about writing a poem for a friend’s wedding, the relationship between performance and page, growing up in South Yonkers and attending a largely white private school, the birth of Black Studies, creating alternative gathering and learning spaces, infiltrating established institutions, the June Jordan fellowship at Columbia’s Center for Justice, the writers and thinkers who inspire Bennett, and how to write about family and living people with respect and honesty.


Books by Joshua Bennett

The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016)

Videos of Joshua

Spoken Wordsmith: Joshua Bennett, via Reebok

16 Bars for Kendrick Lamar, via The Strivers Row

Performing at the White House Poetry Jam

Other Books/Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Achille Mbembe’s Critique of Black Reason (Duke University Press, 2017)

Jesmyn Ward’s “Salvage the Bones” (Bloomsbury, 2012)

Patricia Smith’s Incendiary Art (Triquarterly, 2017)

June Jordan’s Civil Wars (Touchstone, 1995)

Cornel West’s Race Matters (Vintage, 1994)

Theodor Adorno

Richard Wright

Toni Morrison

Zora Neale Hurston

James Baldwin

Jupiter Hammon

George Jackson

Lucille Clifton

Aja Mone

Carlos Andres Gomez

Elizabeth Acevedo

Tyehimba Jess

Phillis Wheatley

Ed Roberson

Dr. Jamall Calloway

Jason Craige Harris

Other Relevant Links

Joshua’s dissertation: “Being Property Once Myself: In Pursuit of the Animal in 20th Century African American Literature”

Joshua interviewed in Dissent Magazine

Kendrick Lamar

Sam Cook

June Jordan Fellowship at the Center for Justice at Columbia University

The Strivers Row

Michael J. Dumas

Sarah Lawrence College Poetry Festival


Aug 01, 2017
Episode 33: Sabrina Orah Mark

Rachel Zucker speaks with writer Sabrina Orah Mark (author of The Babies and Tsim Tsum) right before the first night of Passover. They talk about Judaism, surrealism, Claudia Rankine and Kenneth Koch, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, being good at being pummeled, the prose poem, the kabbalistic concept of tsim tsum, the Holocaust, Jewish identification, what makes a Nazi a Nazi, empathy, Trump, slavery, living in Georgia, the commodification of trauma, teaching outside the academy, “the crying room,” writing fiction, using “I” again, raising an interracial Jewish family in the South, privilege, safety, fear, and believing and not believing in healing.


Books by Sabrina Orah Mark

Tsim Tsum (Saturnalia, 2009)

The Babies (Saturnalia, 2004)

Other Books and Authors Mentioned in the Episode

Claudia Rankine

Kenneth Koch

John Donne

Rachel Zucker’s chapbook Annunciation

Coetze’s Waiting for the Barbarians (Penguin, 2010)

Josh Bell

Reginald McKnight

Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness by Jane Lazarre

Bruno Schulz

Other Relevant Links

Magritte’s The Healer

Emmett Till

Controversy over the Emmett Till painting at the Whitney

“The Poet as Collector,” Sabrina’s lecture on trash

Rachel’s birth poem that mentions tsim tsum


Jul 18, 2017
Episode 32: Laynie Browne

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, professor Laynie Browne about schools of poetry, poetic influences, personal losses, feminism, contemplative poetics, devotional practices, spirituality, writing for a small audience, homage, writing for survival, poetry as a form of protection and as a coping mechanism, the many, many books and projects Laynie is currently working on, suffering, illness, and the importance of listening.


Books by Laynie Browne

You Envelop Me (Omnidawn, 2017)

P R A C T I C E (SplitLevel Texts, 2015)

Scorpyn Odes (Kore Press, 2015)

Lost Parkour Ps(alms) (Presses Universitaires et ruen et de havre, 2014)

Psaumes De Parkour Perdus (Presses Universitaires et ruen et de havre, 2014)

The Ivory Hour (Spuyten Duyvil, 2013)

Roseate, Points of Gold (Dusie Press, 2011)

The Desires of Letters (Counterpath, 2010)

The Scented Fox (Wave Books, 2007)

Daily Sonnets (Counterpath, 2007)

Mermaid’s Purse (Spuyten Duyvil, 2006)

Drawing of a Swan Before Memory (University of Georgia Press, 2005)

Pollen Memory (Tender Buttons, 2003)

Acts of Levitation (Spuyten Duyvil, 2003)

The Agency of Wind (AVEC, 1999)

Rebecca Letters (Kelsey Street Press, 1997)


The Complete Work of Apis Mellifera (with Bernadette Mayer, Further Other, 2017)

Nascent Toolbox (with Lee Ann Brown, The Owl Press, 2004)


Periodic Companions (with Noah Saterstrom forthcoming, Tinderbox, 2017)

The Book of Moments (forthcoming, Presses Universitaires et ruen et de havre, 2018)

The Ivory Hour (Spuyten Duyvil, 2013)

Acts of Levitation (Spuyten Duyvil, 2002)


I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing By Women (Les Figues, 2013, w/ Place, Bergvall & Carmody)

Other Books, Writers and Artists Mentioned in the Episode

Ishmael Reed

C.D. Wright

Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop

Michael Harper

Michael Ondaatje

Bernadette Mayer

Alice Notley

Lee Ann Brown

Lisa Jarnot

Arielle Greenberg

Forrest Gander

Lost Roads Press

Hannah Weiner

Jackson Mac Low

Tom Raworth

Lyn Hejinian

Leslie Scalapino

Karen Randall

Cole Swensen

Elizabeth Willis

Pattie McCarthy

CA Conrad

Robert Creeley

Frank O’Hara

Brenda Hillman

Sharon Olds

Cecilia Vicuña

Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections (University of Iowa Press, 2008)

Nathaniel Dorsky’s Devotional Cinema (Tuumba Press, 2005)

Other Relevant Links

Propolis Press

0 to 9

Tender Buttons Press

Norman Fischer (Jewish Mysticism)

Dave Wolfe-Blank

Rabbi Avram Davis (rabbi)

Rabbi Miles Krassen

Jul 03, 2017
Episode 31: Carmen Giménez Smith

Rachel Zucker talks with poet, editor/publisher and professor, Carmen Gimenez Smith, about the intersection of the lyric and the spoken word, the long poem, punctuation, working on several books at once, Cantomundo, Carmen’s writing process, writing long poems, being an editor, working with editors as a creator, the imagined or intended audience, the importance of getting feedback, political charge, the politicization of the bodies of women and people of color, Carmen’s mother and father, poetry as a form of recuperation, destabilizing the lyric “I”, writing about adolescents, Trump, “self-help” books, privilege, and the gift of entitlement.


Books by Carmen Giménez Smith

Milk and Filth (University of Arizona Press, 2013)

Goodbye, Flicker (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012)

The City She Was (Center for Literary Publishing, 2011)

Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else (University of Arizona Press, 2010)

Odalisque in Pieces (University of Arizona Press, 2009)

Other writers, poems and artists mentioned in the episode

The Book of Questions by Pablo Neruda (Copper Canyon, 2001)

Heights of Macchu Picchu  by Pablo Neruda

Roland Barthes

Pedro Pietri

Eduardo Chirinos

Deborah Paredez

Lucie Brock-Broido

Natalie Diaz

Rita Dove

Lucille Clifton, “Shapeshifter”

Evan Lavender-Smith

Richard Greenfield

Farid Matuk

Czeslaw Milosz

John Jakes

Luce Irigaray

Who Carmen is reading lately that gives her energy

Rosa Alcalá, Daniel Borzutsky, Alejandra Pizarnik, Larry Levis, Dana Levin, Natalie Eilbert, Vanessa Villarreal, Kim Hyesoon

Other relevant links

Noemi Press

Poets House

Graywolf Press

Jeff Shotts

San Jose State University

City Lights Books (the spotlight series)


Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly”

University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Brian Cassidy

Diane Wolkstein Archive at Library of Congress

Mommie Dearest

Jun 15, 2017
Episode 30: Sarah Vap

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Sarah Vap about Sarah’s unpublished and evolving manuscript, sentimentality, extreme susceptibility, interruptibility, raising sons, toxic masculinity, the invisible violence of the state, and the extended emergency of mothering young children. Their conversation is informed by Sarah's presentation for Protean Acts: The Art of Reinvention, a panel for the 2017 Association of Writing Programs conference in Washington D.C., of which an excerpt is also included in the episode.


Books by Sarah Vap

End of the Sentimental Journey (Noemi, 2013)

Arco Iris (Saturnalia, 2012)

Faulkner’s Rosary (Saturnalia, 2010)

American Spikenard (University of Iowa Press, 2007)

Writers on the AWP panel Protean Reinvention (included in episode)

Jaswinder Bolina

Dana Levin

Brian Teare

Writers on the AWP panel on Capitalism (Patron extra)

Julie Sheehan

Susan Briante

Patricia Spears Jones

Writers on the Sentimentality Panel at Harvard

Annie Finch

Sarah Vap

Rachel Zucker

Kevin Prufer

Joy Katz

Other writers and artists mentioned in the episode

Sally Ball

Bernadette Mayer

Miranda Field

Kevin Prufer

Laurel Snyder

Octavia Butler

William Blake

Other relevant links

“Where There Is No Love” by Diana Arterian, published in the Los Angeles Review of Books

From “Winter: Aphorisms” by Sarah Vap, published in the Boston Review

Joy Katz in conversation with Sarah Vap, published in The Conversant

Brown University

Arizona State University

The Olympic Peninsula

Los Angeles

Jun 01, 2017
Episode 29: Molly Peacock

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, memoirist, essayist, and teacher Molly Peacock about authenticity, performance, fear, a woman’s presentation of an authentic self, confessional poetry, constructing art from the material of life, female crafts, photography, the relationship of constructedness to privilege, teaching, formalism, her friendship with poet Phillis Levin, watching the light change in a room, Mary Delany, Molly’s decision not to have children, giving up perfectionism, psychotherapy, the idea of the sympathetic witness, how to construct a life in which you are there for yourself, how to teach with generosity and enthusiasm while still maintaining energy for one’s own creative life, and how to foster boldness.


Books by Molly Peacock

The Analyst (W.W. Norton, 2017)

Alphabetique: 26 Characteristic Fictions (McClelland and Stewart, 2014)

Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 (Bloomsbury UK, 2012)

The Second Blush (W.W. Norton, 2009)

Cornucopia (W.W. Norton, 2004)

How to Read a Poem…: and Start a Poetry Circle (Diane, 1999)

Paradise, Piece by Piece (Riverhead, 1999)

Original Love (W.W. Norton, 1996)

Take Heart (Vintage, 1989)

Raw Heaven (Random House, 1984)

And Live Apart (University of Missouri Press, 1980)

Other books, writers, artists mentioned in the episode

Sonia Sanchez, Eileen Myles, and Alice Notley reading at AWP Conference and Bookfair, Washington DC, 2017

Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”

Anne Sexton

Sylvia Plath

Robert Lowell

Isamu Noguchi

John Donne

George Herbert

John Keats

Percy Shelley

John Milton

John Greenleaf Whittier

Philip Schultz

Hugh Seidman

Carol Muske Dukes

Shakespeare’s sonnets

Mary Delany

Robert Frost

Frank MacShane

Richard Howard

John Berryman

John Logan

Poetic Meter & Poetic Form by Paul Fussell (McGraw-Hill, 1979)

Poetry Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms by Babette Deutsch (Harper, 2009)

Phillis Levin

Tom Sleigh

Rachel Hadas

Lisa Ziedner

Mary Robison


Sheila Heti

Nadia Boulanger

Mary Heister Reed

Other relevant links

Confessional Poetry

MacDowell Colony

Ingram Merrill Foundation

Unterberg Poetry Center

Friends Seminary

Molly at the Loft Literary Center

A Brief Guide to New Formalism

“White Swan, Black Swan: Poetry in an Analytical Hour” by Molly Peacock, for HARRIET

May 23, 2017
Episode 28: Poems for Mother's Day

Episode 28 is a special Mother’s Day episode featuring a collection of poems chosen and read by poets who are mothers.


Rachel Zucker reading “The Language of the Brag” by Sharon Olds from Strike Sparks

Alicia Ostriker reading “In the Shadow of Liberty”

Keetje Kuipers reading section XIII of “An Atlas of the Difficult World” by Adrienne Rich in An Atlas of the Difficult World

Jennifer Militello reading “Invention: The Handy Every-Mother Zone-Out Capacitor” by Mairéad Byrne

Vandana Khanna reading “Persephone Abducted” by Rita Dove from Mother Love

Jenny Browne reading “You Can’t Have It All” by Barbara Ras from Bite Every Sorrow

Lisa Olstein reading “Pain for a Daughter” by Anne Sexton

Maggie Smith reading “A Drink in the Night” by Deborah Garrison

Aimee Nezhukumatathil reading “First Day at Daycare” by Beth Ann Fennelly from Tender Hooks

Meridian Johnson reading “Spool” by Laressa Dickey

Carolina Ebeid reading “An Arriving Guard of Angels Thusly Coming to Greet” by Akilah Oliver

Nancy Kricorian reading “Ghost Children”

Rachel Moritz  reading an excerpt from Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso

Renee Angle reading “Marie Makes Fun of Me at the Shore” by Bernadette Mayer in A Bernadette Mayer Reader

Sally Ball reading “Black Swan” by Brigit Pegeen Kelly from The Orchard

Sarah Vap reading “mother tongue, to the child just born” by Lucille Clifton

Victoria Chang reading “From Blossoms” by Li-Young Lee from Rose

Martha Silano reading “Harborview”

Kristen Hanlon reading “Lullaby” by Chloe Garcia Roberts from The Reveal

Blueberry Morningsnow reading “Milk, See Child”

Robin Clarke, reading the the last stanza of “An Owl Is Born out of a White Owl’s Forehead—1972” Alice Notley from Mysteries of Small Houses

Emily Carlson reading “Mary’s Dream” by Lucille Clifton from Two Headed Woman

Aracelis Girmay reading section 5 of “On the Road to Sri Bhuvaneshwari” by Robin Coste Lewis from Voyage of the Sable Venus

Erika Meitner reading “The Speed of Darkness” by Muriel Rukeyser from Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser

Joy Katz reading “Sunday Mornings” by Robert Hayden

Montana Ray reading “Porfina” by Adélia Prado in Portuguese and in English (translated by Ellen Doré Watson as “Concerted Effort”)

Robin Beth Schaer reading “Morning Song” by Sylvia Plath from Ariel

Arielle Greenberg reading the last section of “Here Happy is No Part of Love” by Rachel Zucker from The Last Clear Narrative

Rachel Zucker reading “won’t you celebrate with me” by Lucille Clifton from The Collected poems of Lucille Clifton

Home/Birth: A Poemic (Re/Issue)

For the rest of the month of May, we’re offering a special discount on the reissue of Arielle Greenberg and Rachel Zucker’s poemic, Home/Birth, now available as a print-on-demand book from CreateSpace/Amazon.

Click here to order Home/Birth and use code RTZDM5JT to get $5 off! Patrons get an even deeper discount become a Patron today to unlock this benefit, and so many more, including special recordings by Commonplace poets and entries to our monthly raffle!

Click here to learn more about Home/Birth: A Poemic.   


May 14, 2017
Episode 27: Rita Dove

Rachel Zucker talks with Rita Dove, former Poet Laureate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, author of more than 15 books and University of Virginia professor about political poetry, creative writing programs, the usefulness of prosody, form as ‘a talisman against disintegration,’ the public intimacy of social media, her poem ‘Parsley,’ audience, code switching, why some poems are hard to read, blackness and other people’s expectations of her as a black woman, getting over the Iowa voice, narrative poetry, her book Thomas and Beulah, the myth of Persephone, Trump, motherhood, marriage, slavery, freedom, why she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, being a musician and a ballroom dancer, the solace of rhyme, and embracing change.


Books by Rita Dove

Collected Poems: 1974-2004 (W.W. Norton, 2016)

Sonata Mulattica (W. W. Norton, 2010)

American Smooth (W. W. Norton, 2006)

The Darker Face of the Earth (Story Line Press, 2000)

On the Bus with Rosa Parks (W. W. Norton, 2000)

Mother Love (W. W. Norton, 1996)

Thomas and Beulah (Carnegie Mellon, 1996)

Through the Ivory Gate (Vintage, 1993)

Selected Poems (Vintage, 1993)

Museum (Carnegie Mellon, 1992)

Grace Notes (W. W. Norton, 1991)

Fifth Sunday (Callaloo, 1990)

The Yellow House on the Corner (Carnegie Mellon, 1989)

Books and Other Authors Mentioned in the Episode

Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Puffin Books, 2013)

Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days (University of Iowa Press, 2010)

A Poet’s Glossary by Edward HIrsch (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (W. W. Norton, 2001)

Gunter Grass

Laurel Snyder

The University of Virginia MFA programCharles Wright, Gregory Orr, Lisa Russ Spaar, Paul Guest, Debra Nystrom

Rachel Zucker’s Eating in the Underworld (Wesleyan, 2003)

The Reaper Essays by Mark Jarman (Story Line Press, 1996)

Renga for Obama (organized by Major Jackson)

Tanks and the Bangas’ website and their Tiny Desk performance

Other Relevant Links

Rita Dove’s poem “Parsley”

Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello

Ballroom dancing

Apr 25, 2017
Episode 26: Alice Notley

Host Rachel Zucker speaks with one of her most important influences and inspirations, author of more than 40 books, poet Alice Notley. They talk about a recent reading that Notley gave with Eileen Myles and Sonia Sanchez that Zucker attended, Notley’s reading and poetic styles, and how Zucker came to Notley’s work. They also discuss writing an epic, suffering, writing about family, writing through pain, communication with the dead, how Notley represents her deceased brother, poetry as the public communication of the dead, money, poverty, survivor's benefits, working for Allen Ginsberg, the dearth of women (particularly women with children) in poetry, the shock and shame of postpartum depression, self-hypnosis, the unconscious, the tyrant, Trump, fascism, the desert, and growing up in a small town.


Books by Alice Notley

Certain Magical Acts (Penguin, 2016)

Benediction (Letter Machine Editions, 2015)

Culture of One (Penguin, 2011)

Songs and Stories of the Ghouls (Wesleyan Poetry Series, 2011)

Culture of One (Penguin, 2011)

Reason and Other Women (Chax Press, 2010)

Grave of Light (Wesleyan University Press, 2008)

In the Pines (Penguin, 2007)

Alma, or The Dead Women (Granary Books, 2006)

Coming After: Essays on Poetry (University of Michigan Press, 2005)

Disobedience (Penguin, 2001)

Mysteries of Small Houses (Penguin, 1998)

The Descent of Alette (Penguin, 1996)

Closer to Me & Closer…(The Language of Heaven) & Desamere (O Books, 1995)

Other Books and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Alice Quinn

Eileen Myles

Sonia Sanchez

Bob Creeley

Rachel Zucker’s MOTHERs (Counterpath, 2013)

Diane Wolkstein’s Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth (Harper, 1983)

A Curriculum of the Soul by Jack Clarke and Al Glover (Spuyten Duyvil Publishing)

Joanne Kyger

Samuel Noah Kramer

Kenneth Koch

Allen Ginsberg

Bob Rosenthal

Ted Berrigan

Philip Whalen

Edwin Denby

Anselm Berrigan

Eddie Berrigan

Bob Holman

Sylvia Plath

Jack Kerouac

Other Relevant Links

Bob Wilson

Apr 18, 2017
Episode 25: Ross Gay

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, teacher, gardner and community organizer Ross Gay. Gay is the author of Bringing Down the Shovel, Against Which, River, and Catlog of Unabashed Gratitude which won the Kinglsey Tufts Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Zucker and Gay talk about gardens, seasonal changes, teenage boys, anger, sorrow, stress reduction, and how poems can help you look at difficult emotions. Gay reads from his book Catlog and one of his new, unpublished “delights”. 

Gay and Zucker talk about what they love about long poems and the experience of writing and reading them and other prosy-poemy forms of sustained meditations. They discuss a mutual love for prose by poets and how to teach less from the mode of critique  and more from gratitude and love.


Books by Ross Gay

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude (Pitt Poetry Series, 2015)

Bringing the Shovel Down (Pitt Poetry Series, 2011)

Against Which (Cavankerry, 2006)

Lace & Pyrite (with Aimee Nezhukumatathil) (Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Series, 2011)

Books and Other Authors Mentioned in the Episode

Patrick Rosal

Adrienne Rich’s Of Woman Born (W.W. Norton, 1995)

Sarah Manguso’s prose:

Rachel Zucker’s Mothers (Counterpath, 2013)

Maggie Nelson’s prose:

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (Graywolf, 2014)

Other Relevant Links

An Anatomy of the Long Poem,” by Rachel Zucker, published on the Academy of American Poets blog

Some Call it Ballin'

Q Avenue

Ledge Mule Press

Bloomington Community Orchard

Apr 11, 2017
Episode 24: Julie Carr

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, professor, translator, dancer, choreographer Julie Carr about her book Think Tank and her many other recent projects. They discuss narrative, abstraction, prose envy, pleasure, desire, movement, reading with a group, compositional process and writing habits, homophonic translation, writing-through-reading, pheromonal meter, improvisation, form, mode, and “the poetics of containment.” Carr describes how she and her husband Tim Roberts founded Counterpath Press and the evolution of the focus and identity of the press. Zucker and Carr talk about Carr's role as editor of Rachel’s book, MOTHERs. They also discuss teaching, the financial crisis, money, the daily, moving into more engagement with others, social and political activism and poetry as site of individual change, desire and arousal.


Books of Poetry by Julie Carr

Mead: An Epithalamion (University of Georgia Press, 2004)

Equivocal (Alice James Books, 2007)

Sarah—of Fragments and Lines (Coffee House Press, 2010 - Selected for the National Poetry Series)

100 Notes on Violence (Ahsahta Press, 2010 - Winner of the Sawtooth Poetry Prize)

Rag (Omnidawn, 2014)

Think Tank (Solid Objects Press, 2015)

Books of Prose by Julie Carr

Surface Tension: Ruptural Time and the Poetics of Desire in Late Victorian Poetry (Dalkey Archive, 2012)

Objects from a Borrowed Confession (Ahsahta Press, 2017)

Other writers/artists/makers/people/organizations mentioned in the episode

Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres (Rose Metal Press, 2015)

Luther Price (Meat)

Surface Tension lecture on PennSound

Cesar Vallejo’s Trilce (Shearsman Books, 2005)

Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition (University of Chicago Press, 1998)

Cole Swensen’s Noon (Green Integer, 2003)

Nancy Stark Smith

John Ashbery

Louis Zukofsky

William Carlos Williams

Tim Roberts (Julie’s husband and co-founder of Counterpath)

New York Improvisation Festival

Sondra Loring

Brian Henry

Laynie Browne

Andrew Joron’s “The Emergency of Poetry”

Myung Mi Kim’s Commons (University of California Press, 2002)

Alice Notley’s Descent of Alette (Penguin, 1996)

MOTHERs (Counterpath, 2013)

Gustav Mahler

Lisa Robertson’s “Utopia,” published in R’s Boat (University of California Press, 2010)

Bernadette Mayer’s Midwinter Day (New Directions, 1999 reissue)

Sarah Vap

Julie Carr’s blog on Jacket2

Fred Moten

Adrienne Rich’s An Atlas of the Difficult World (W.W. Norton, 1991)


Apr 04, 2017
Episode 23: Morgan Parker

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Morgan Parker (author of Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night and There are More Beautiful Things than Beyoncé) in front of a LIVE audience at the KGB Red Room on February 27, 2017. Morgan reads new work, discusses what she’s working on, who she’s writing for, and her 13 husbands. They talk about confessional poetry, performance, blackness, whiteness, therapy, Beyoncé, authenticity,  revision, therapy as reparations, and Nelly.


Books by Morgan Parker

There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce (Tin House, 2017)

Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback, 2015)

Other Books/Writers/Thinkers/Musicians Mentioned


Julie Buntin

Rachel McKibbens

Lizzie Harris

Angel Nafis

Monica McClure

Nate Marshall

Mickalene Thomas

Matthew Dickman

D.A. Powell

Christine Larusso

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Other Relevant Links

“How to Stay Sane While Black” by Morgan Parker, published by the New York Times

Mar 15, 2017
Episode 22: Undocupoets 2 — Javier Zamora, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, and Janine Joseph

Rachel Zucker speaks with poets Javier Zamora, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, and Janine Joseph who are working to remove publication obstacles for undocumented or previously undocumented poets and writers. They speak about the work of Undocupoets, the current, constantly shifting state of U.S. immigration, the petition they started, fundraising and other actions of literary activism. They also talk about mixed-status families, “exceptionalism,” and the fear and invisibility experienced by people with insecure immigration status. They talk about writing, the hierarchy of imagery and language, memory loss, the use of “I” in their poems, ways of distancing one’s self from one’s story, whether or not they are writing since the presidential election, and the incredible usefulness of email for organizing.


Publications by the Undocupoets

Driving Without a License by Janine Joseph (Alice James Books, 2016)

Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora (Forthcoming from Copper Canyon this September)

While Marcelo Hernandez Castillo does not yet have a book or chapbook out for purchase, we recommend reading some of his writing online, via The Paris American, PBS, The Acentos Review, Buzzfeed, Construction, and elsewhere.

Other Books, Projects and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Riverhead, 2008)

Nicole Sealey

Poets & Writers

Amazon Literary Partnership

University of Michigan

Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award

Jose-Antonio Vargas’s film Documented


Favianna Rodriguez

2006-07 U.S. Immigration Reform Protests and Marches

Los Angeles Marches of 2006

Emerald City [TV Series]

Want to know more? Do more?

Here’s some links to get you started, thanks to Marcelo, Javier, Janine and Loma. If you donate to one of these institutions during the month of March and shares your receipt with us, we will send you a book of poetry!

Sibling Rivalry Press/Undocupoets Fellowship

The Queer Detainee Empowerment Project

The Resistance Calendar

QUIP (Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project)

Split This Rock



Ali Forney Center

Black & Pink

Assata’s Daughters

Trans Relief Project

Detention Watch Network


Mar 02, 2017
Episode 21: Undocupoets Part 1 — Christopher Soto aka Loma

Rachel Zucker talks with author of the chapbook Sad Girl Poems and co-founder of Undocupoets Christopher Soto, aka Loma, about their experience at NYU, the exploitation of pain and sadness of poets of color, the pressure on poets of color and queer poets to write a certain kind of poem or a embrace a certain kind of content, the redistribution of money, and the presence of the physical body in activism. They talk about literary activism, including  Loma's Tour to End Queer Youth Homelessness, Latinas Against Everyone, Undocupoets, and the role of literature in building the human.


Publications by Christopher Soto aka Loma

Sad Girl Poems by Loma (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016)

Other Books, Projects and Writers Mentioned in the Episode [Part One]

Yusef Komunyakaa

Eduardo C. Corral

Ocean Vuong

Brenda Shaughnessy

Matthew Rohrer

Eileen Myles

Sylvia Wynter

Frantz Fanon

Citizen by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf, 2014)

Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid by Frank B. Wilderson III (Duke University Press, 2015)

Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America by Saidaiya Hartman (Oxford University Press, 1997)

Against Innocence by Jackie Wang (Semiotext(e))

Bryan Borland

David Tomas Martinez

Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop

Want to know more? Do more?

Here’s some links to get you started, thanks to Marcelo, Javier, Janine and Loma. If you donate to one of these institutions during the month of March and shares your receipt with us, we will send you a book of poetry!:

Sibling Rivalry Press

The Queer Detainee Empowerment Project

The Resistance Calendar

QUIP (Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project)

Split This Rock



Ali Forney Center

Black & Pink

Assata's Daughters

The Trans Relief Project

Detention Watch Network



Feb 26, 2017
Episode 20: Kristin Prevallet

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, hypnotherapist, teacher, workshop leader and activist Kristin Prevallet about teaching grammar in prisons, trancepoetics, hypnotherapy, radical femininity, retrograde meaning, and what it means to be a tender of the garden of language. They discuss Kristin’s new novel and new book on healing, teaching writing to non-writers, and the power of female sexuality.

Help support our growing podcast by becoming a patron of Commonplace:

Let us know your thoughts and follow Commonplace on Twitter: @commonplacepod


Books by Kristin Prevallet

Trace Poetics: Your Writing Mind (Wide Reality Books, 2013)

You, Resourceful: Return to Who You Want to Be (Wide Reality Books, 2012)

Everywhere Here and in Brooklyn (A Four Quartets) (Belladonna*, 2012)

I, Afterlife: Essay in Mourning Time (Essay Press, 2007)

Other Books/Artists/Thinkers/Makers Mentioned in the Episode

William James, The Figure of Consciousness (Routledge, 2014)

Hélène Cixious, “The Laugh of the Medusa” (Signs, Vol. 1, via Jstor)

Alice Notley, Mysteries of Small Houses (Penguin, 2008)

Karl Jung, The Red Book (W.W. Norton & Company, 2012)

Leonora Carrington

Max Ernst

Rikki Ducornet

Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (Dover Thrift Editions, 1994)

William Shakespeare, King Lear (Norton Critical Editions, 2007)

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication on the Rights of Women (Dover Thrift Editions, 1996)

Other Relevant Links

Bard Prison Initiative

PEN Prison Writing Program

Feb 11, 2017
Episode 19: Andi Zeisler

Rachel Zucker speaks with writer and illustrator Andi Zeisler, co-founder of Bitch Media. They discuss the recent election, feminism, and Andi’s most recent book We Were Feminists Once, which offers a critical analysis of the ways that feminism has been co-opted by the marketplace. They also discuss the impulse behind the foundation of Bitch Media, new projects, and how to move forward in an era of uncertainty.

Help support our growing podcast by becoming a patron of Commonplace:

Let us know your thoughts and follow Commonplace on Twitter: @commonplacepod


Books by Andi Zeisler

We Were Feminists Once: From RiotGrrrl to Cover Girl, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement (PublicAffairs, 2016)

Feminism and Pop Culture (Seal Press, 2008)

Other Relevant Links

BITCH Magazine

Dakota Access Pipeline Foes: We Aren’t Done Fighting Yet (NPR’s Code Switch)

Support Standing Rock

Women's March

American Civil Liberties Union

What Just Happened? The Women’s Marches (Bitch Media)

Her Opponent

Feb 01, 2017
Episode 18: Terrance Hayes

Host Rachel Zucker talks with award-winning poet Terrance Hayes about Terrance’s new work, living in New York City, the election, teaching workshop, painting, sharing work with peers, not wanting help, provocation, offensive language, the role of audience, and staying true to oneself. Terrance reads a selection of new poems all titled “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin” to start the conversation.



Books by Terrance Hayes

How to Be Drawn (Penguin, 2015)

Lighthead (Penguin, 2010)

Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006)

Muscular Music (Re-printed by Carnegie Mellon, 2006)

Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002)

Other Writers, Artists and Musicians Mentioned in the Episode

Yona Harvey

Lynn Emanuel

Amiri Baraka

Patricia Smith

Dean Young

Gertrude Stein

Eddie Murphy

Young Thug

Other Relevant Links

Cave Canem

Jan 20, 2017
Episode 17: Natalie Diaz and Roger Reeves

Rachel Zucker talks with poets Natalie Diaz and Roger Reeves right before all three of them are about to read at a poetry event called “Love, especially love,” organized by Natalie Diaz and held at NYC’s Housingworks Cafe. The three talk about racism, family, the family that poetry makes, long poems v. shorter, self-contained poems, getting in the way, taking up space, risk, pleasure, joy, public/private, spectacle, spectator and poetry of witness. They also talk about the artists and writers who inspire them, including the painter Kerry James Marshall, and about Standing Rock, native poets, how to fight and the essential importance of love.


Books by Natalie Diaz

When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012)

Books by Roger Reeves

King Me (Copper Canyon Press, 2013)

Other Authors/Artists/Books Mentioned in the Episode

Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth Century America by Saidiya Hartman (Oxford University Press, 1997)

This is an Uprising: How Nonviolent Revolt is Shaping the Twenty-First Century by Mark and Paul Engler (Nation Books, 2016)

Deborah A. Miranda

Joy Harjo

Jennifer Elise Foerster

Rickey Laurentiis

Louise Erdrich

Heid Erdrich

Layli Long Soldier

Solmaz Sharif

Mahmoud Darwish

Fady Joudah

Aimé Césaire

Kerry James Marshall

Krista Franklin

Wifredo Lam

Other Relevant Links

Stand with Standing Rock

Housing Works (you can also shop via Housing Works’ Amazon Bookstore; a portion of the sale will go to them!)

"The Work of Art in the Age of Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston,” a craft talk by Roger Reeves

Close Reading: An Interview with Derek Walcott


Jan 16, 2017
Episode 16: Jericho Brown

Host Rachel Zucker speaks with award-winning poet Jericho Brown about the differences between poetry and journalism, the role of truth and facts in poetry, the complexities of separating a poet’s autobiography from the work especially in the age of Facebook, writing about family and about queerness, coming out, “bad people,” the complications of assembling a collection a poems, poetry projects v. poems, and treasuring the “small, complete thing.”


Books by Jericho Brown

The New Testament (Copper Canyon, 2014)

Please (New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2008)

Other Books or Writers Mentioned in the Episode

The Fuehrer Bunker: The Complete Cycle by W.D. Snodgrass (BOA Editions, 1995)

Essex Hemphill

Nikki Giovanni

Langston Hughes

Gwendolyn Brooks

Countee Culle

Claude McKay

Jean Valentine

Elizabeth Willis

Interviews Mentioned and Other Relevant Links

“Becoming Jericho Brown” by Jeremy Redmon, published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An interview with Jericho in the Nashville Review

Autobiography of Real: an interview with Jericho in the Yale Literary Magazine

Until the Fulcrum Tips: A Conversation with Rita Dove and Jericho Brown, published in the Best American Poetry

“Is This the End of the Era of the Important, Inappropriate Literary Man?” by Jia Tolentino, published in Jezebel

The National Book Awards

Jan 02, 2017
Episode 15: Bernadette Mayer

Host Rachel Zucker speaks with one of her favorite poetic influences: feminist rebel-poet Bernadette Mayer, about being a writer and a mother, life in New York City, writing habits, and the circumstances behind her foundational book Midwinter Day (written all on one day, December 22, 1978) . They discuss dreams, the desire to record EVERYTHING, how the poetry community has changed (and how it hasn’t) since Bernadette began writing, and the complications of writing about family.


Books by Bernadette Mayer

The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters (Nightboat Reprint, 2017)

Works and Days (New Directions, 2016)

Eating the Colors of a Lineup of Words: The Collected Early Books of Bernadette Mayer (Barrytown/Station Hill Press, 2015)

Sonnets (Tender Buttons Press, 2014)

The Helens of Troy (New Directions, 2013)

Studying Hunger Journals (Station Hill Press, 2011)

Ethics of Sleep (Trembling Pillow Press, 2011)

Poetry State Forest (New Directions, 2008)

Scarlet Tanager (New Directions, 2005)

Midwinter Day (New Directions Reprint, 1999)

Another Smashed Pinecone (United Artists Books, 1998)

Proper Name and Other Stories (New Directions, 1996)

A Bernadette Mayer Reader (New Directions, 1992)

Other Books/Writers Mentioned in the Episode

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (Haymarket Books, 2015)

What’s Your Idea of a Good Time by Bill Berkson and Bernadette Mayer (Tuumba Press, 2006)

The Random House Book of 20th Century French Poetry, edited by Paul Auster (Vintage, 1984)

Alice Notley

Anne Waldman

Ted Berrigan

Eileen Myles

Other Links of Note

St. Mark's Poetry Project

Bernadette’s Archive

Bernadette’s Journal Ideas and Writing Experiments

Bernadette’s page at the Electronic Poetry Center

The Drama in the Everyday: Bernadette Mayer’s Early Poems” by Douglas Messeri, published on Hyperallergic

Audio Recordings of Bernadette’s Poems and other Interviews, from Penn Sound


Dec 22, 2016
Episode 14: Alicia Ostriker

In this episode, host Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, critic, biblical scholar Alicia Ostriker about the election, feminism, the difference between the contemporary moment and the idealism of the sixties, how the ego is subsumed in the process of writing poetry, William Blake, and the differences between writing poetry and prose. They also talk about motherhood, daughterhood, Ostriker's friendship with Toi Derricotte, teaching, and the interpretive process of biblical reimagining called "midrash."


Books of Poetry by Alicia Ostriker

Waiting for the Light (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017) 

The Old Woman, the Tulip and the Dog (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2014)

The Book of Life: Selected Jewish Poems, 1979–2011 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) 

The Book of Seventy (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009) 

The Mother/Child Papers (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017)  

No Heaven (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017)

The Volcano Sequence (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2002)

The Little Space: Poems Selected and New, 1968–1998 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998)

Green Age (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1989)

A Woman Under the Surface (Princeton University Press, 1982)

Songs (Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1969)

Criticism by Alicia Ostriker

Dancing at the Devil's Party: Essays on Poetry, Politics, and the Erotic (University of Michigan Press, 2000)

Writing Like a Woman (University of Michigan Press, 1983)

Stealing the Language: The Emergence of Women's Poetry in America (Beacon Press, 1987)

Visions and Verse in William Blake (University of Wisconsin Press, 1965)

Biblical Scholarship by Alicia Ostriker

For the Love of God: The Bible as an Open Book (Rutgers University Press, 2007)

The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions (Rutgers University Press, 1994)

Feminist Revision and the Bible (Wiley-Blackwell, 1993)

Other Authors Mentioned in the Episode

Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)

Silences by Tillie Olsen (The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2003)

The Black Notebooks: An Interior Journey by Toi Derricotte (W.W. Norton, 1999)

Of Woman Born by Adrienne Rich (W.W. Norton, 1995 reprint)

The Complete Poems by William Blake, ed. Alicia Ostriker (Penguin Classics, 1978)

Galway Kinnell

Other Links of Note

Leonard Cohen’s “Closing Time”

Cave Canem

Alicia’s essay, “Milk,” published in Fourth Genre

Project Muse offers The Mother Child Papers as a downloadable PDF!

Dec 15, 2016
Episode 13: D.A. Powell

Host Rachel Zucker talks with her friend D.A. Powell, author of five award-winning books of poetry and professor at University of San Francisco. They talk about the presidential election, outrage, disturbance, poetry as social activism and action, normalization, resistance, erasures, palimpsests, minimalism, droplifting, notebooks, revision strategies, chaos and order(ing), and going forward. They also talk about their time together at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, teaching, their mutual affection and respect for one another and the importance of friendship.


Books by D.A. Powell

Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys (Graywolf, 2014)

Repast: Tea, Lunch and Cocktails (Graywolf, 2014)

Chronic: Poems (Graywolf, 2012)

Dunstan Thompson: On the Life and Work of a Lost American Master (edited alongside Kevin Prufer) (Pleiades Press, 2010)

By Myself: An Autobiography (collaboration with David Trinidad) (Turtle Point Press, 2009)

Cocktails: Poems (Graywolf, 2004)

Other Books and Projects Mentioned in the Episode

Sentences by Robert Grenier

garlic in the ground by Robert Grenier (video portrait by Charles Bernstein), published by Jacket2

Soldier's Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father — A Daughter's Memoir by Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics, 2015)

Howl by Allen Ginsberg (the Moloch section) (City Lights reissue, 2001)

Citizen by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf, 2014)

Other Relevant Links

D.A. Powell’s Unruly Elegies,” by Christopher Richards, published in the New Yorker

30 Books: Gregg Barrios on D.A. Powell’s “Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys,” published in Critical Mass

“Hell's Music: A 'Guide For Boys' With Adult Themes,” by Craig Morgen Teicher, published by NPR

People, Publications and Events Mentioned in this Episode

Bernie Sanders

Elizabeth Warren

Rachel Maddow

#NoDAPL/Standing Rock

Barry White

Matthew Dickman

Abby Hoffman

Radi Os by Ronald Johnson (Flood Editions, 2015), an "erasure" of Paradise Lost

Jane Wyman

James Baldwin

Marianne Moore

Boomerang! (Rachel’s contributor’s journal): A limited edition literary journal created to encourage communication between writers (modeled on ROOMS a contributors Journal made by Bay Area women poets. Committed to linguistic and visual experimentation, Boomerang!  Ran for 15 issues. Contributors included: Rick Barot, Miranda Field, Alan Feldman, Joy Katz, Wayne Koestenbaum, Lisa Lubasch, Hermine Meinhard, DA Powell, Reginald Shepherd, Elizabeth Robinson, David Trinidad and Max Winter.


Dec 01, 2016
Episode 12: Steph Burt

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet-critic-professor Steph Burt about types of criticism, ethical problems of criticism, gender expression, female embodiment, an aesthetic of adornment and neon violet and an aesthetic of naturalness and apparent authenticity, form, formalism and informality, The Vision, Kitty Pride and the desire to dematerialize, authority and male privilege, Steph’s recent book of criticism The Poem Is You and their forthcoming book Advice from the Lights, different kinds of questions one might ask of short, lyric art works v. the kinds of questions one might ask of longer, more comprehensive works, persona poems, cultural appropriation, whiteness, influence, and “a poetics of incremental change.” Patreon subscribers will receive two additional readings by Steph: Randall Jarrell's "A Man Meets a Woman in the Street," and "The Cars' Greatest Hits" from Advice from the Lights.


Books Written or Edited by Steph

From There: Some Thoughts on Poetry & Place (Ronsdale Press, 2016)

Belmont: Poems (Graywolf, 2013)

The Forms of Youth: Twentieth-Century Poetry and Adolescence (Columbia University Press, 2012)

The Art of the Sonnet (Belknap, 2011)

Randall Jarrell and His Age (Columbia University Press, 2010)

Something Understood: Essays and Poetry for Helen Vendler (University of Virginia Press, 2009)

Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry (Graywolf, 2009)

Shot Clocks: Poems for the WNBA (Harry Tankoos Press, 2006)

Parallel Play: Poems (Graywolf, 2006)

Randall Jarrell on W.H. Auden (Columbia University Press, 2005)

Popular Music: Poems (Colorado Prize for Poetry, 1999)

Books by Other Writers

Tom King’s Vision (Marvel, 2016)

Kelly Thompson’s Jem and the Holograms (IDW, 2015)

George Eliot’s Middlemarch (Penguin Classics, 2013)

Allan Peterson’s Fragile Acts (McSweeney’s, 2012)

Rosa Alcalá’s The Lust of Unsentimental Waters (Shearsman Books, 2012)

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt’s Voyage to the Fortunate Isles and Other Poems (Antique Reprints, 2016)

Monica Youn’s Blackacre (Graywolf, 2016)

W.H. Auden’s The Dyer’s Hand (Vintage Books, 1989)

Robyn Schiff’s A Woman of Property (Penguin, 2016)

Angie Estes’s Enchantee (Oberlin College Press, 2013)

Brenda Shaughnessy’s So Much Synth (Copper Canyon, 2016)

Other Related Links

Steph’s poem “My 1987,” published in The New Republic

Smothered to Smithereens: the poetics of motherhood, published by the Boston Review

Poetry’s Cross-Dressing Kingmaker, published in the New York Times

Nov 15, 2016
Episode 11: Shane McCrae

Rachel Zucker speaks with Shane McCrae, professor and author of five books, about his poetic process, what he’s working on, and the current political climate. The two discuss the limitations of the term “confessional poetry,” the difficulties of writing about tragedies in the immediate wake of their occurrences, the impulse to witness humiliation in popular culture, the American anxiety of the long poem post-Eliot, and how one might curate an “overwhelming sadness” through art. Shane McCrae reads “In the Language” from his new book In the Language of My Captor, and “Forgiveness in America” from Forgiveness Forgiveness. An audio excerpt from Shane’s newest book-length poem and two hand-picked playlists are available to Patreon subscribers of Commonplace.


Books by Shane

The Animal Too Big To Kill (Persea, 2015)

Forgiveness Forgiveness (Factory Hollow Press, 2014)

Nonfiction (Black Lawrence Press, 2014)

Blood (Noemi Press, 2013)

In Canaan (Rescue Press, 2011)

Mule (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2010)

Recent Books Recommended by Shane in the Episode

Donika Kelly’s Bestiary (Graywolf, 2016)

Anaïs Duplan’s Take this Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016)

Carolina Ebeid’s You Ask Me To Talk About The Interior (Noemi Press, 2016)

Sarah Deniz Akant’s Babette (Rescue Press, 2015)

Other Writers and Books Mentioned in the Episode

Richard Wilbur’s Collected Poems, 1943-2004 (Harcourt, 2004)

Sylvia Plath’s Ariel (Restored Edition, Harper, 2005)

Sylvia Plath’s The Colossus (Vintage, 1998)

Helen Dewitt’s The Last Samurai (New Directions, 2016)

Linda Pastan’s PM/AM (W.W. Norton, 1982)

Celestine Frost’s An Inhuman Revival (New Rivers Press, 1977)

T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (Norton Critical Editions)

Music Mentioned


Michael Hirsch

Gloria Coates

Robert Simpson


Joy Division

The Cure

Have a Nice Life

Other Relevant Links

How Poet Shane McCrae Learned to Break the Rules, via PBS

Shane McCrae on “Community,” via the Poetry Society of America

Kate Greenstreet’s Interviews

Nov 01, 2016
Episode 10: Olena Kalytiak Davis

Rachel Zucker speaks with Olena Kalytiak Davis, author of three books and a chapbook, about her daily writing practice (or lack thereof), writing autobiographically, and what it means to not fake it in her work. The two discuss a new poem of Rachel’s, “Enough Is Enough,” in which Olena is prominently featured as a subject without her prior knowledge. The poem sparks an animated conversation that explores questions of shared memory, the ethics of writing about people you know, and what it’s like to be concretized in poem. Olena reads two short poems during the podcast: “I Was Minor,” and “My Own Self Still Unconcerned.” Rachel’s poem “Enough is Enough” and Olena’s poem “Late Summer Ode” are available to Patreon subscribers of Commonplace.


Books by Olena Kalytiak Davis

The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems (Copper Canyon, 2014)

Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, and Other Off and Back Handed Importunities (Copper Canyon, 2014)

On the Kitchen Table from Which Everything Has Been Hastily Removed (Chapbook, Hollyridge Press, 2009)

And Her Soul Out of Nothing (University of Wisconsin Press, 1997)

Other Books Mentioned in the Episode

Seeing is the Name of Forgetting the thing One Sees, Robert Irwin

Other Relevant Links

You and Me Both,” an article about Olena’s writing by Dan Chiasson, published by the New Yorker

Their True and Untrue Confession of Olena Kalytiak Davis by Ira Sadoff on the Poetry Foundation website

What To Read Now” by Arielle Greenberg in American Poetry Review mentioning lots of books from 2014 and comparing Olena Kalytiak Davis’s The Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems and Rachel Zucker’s The Pedestrians

Big Love (Polyamory and its Discontents) Dear Sugar episode with Arielle Greenberg

Arielle Greenberg’s website


Oct 17, 2016
Episode 9: Wayne Koestenbaum

Rachel Zucker speaks with Wayne Koestenbaum, an artist of multiple mediums and a cultural critic, about nudism, the shame of writing, sensual upsurge, ecofeminism, the different challenges posed by writing and painting, and what he calls “the cage of language.” They explore questions of self-validation, changing one’s relationship to language, and what it means to be a cautious person who “bares all” in their work. In the latter part of the conversation, Zucker and Koestenbaum discuss the implications of book purging, and the difficulties of managing and letting go of the things one inherits.


Wayne's Books


Blue Stranger with Mosaic Background (Turtle Point Press, 2012)

Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films (Turtle Point Press, 2006)

Rhapsodies of A Repeat Offender (Persea, 1994)

Ode to Anna Moffo and Other Poems (Persea, 1990)

Model Homes (BOA Editions, 2004)

Criticism and essays

Notes on Glaze: 18 Photographic Investigations (Cabinet Books, 2016)

The Pink Trace Notebooks (Nightboat, 2015)

My 1980s and Other Essays (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2013)

The Anatomy of Harpo Marx (University of California Press, 2012)

Humiliation (Picador, 2011)

Andy Warhol (Lipper/Viking, 2001)

Cleavage: Essays on Sex, Stars, and Aesthetics (Ballantine Books, 2000)

Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting An Icon (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 1995)

The Queen's Throat: Opera, Homosexuality, and the Mystery of Desire (Poseidon, 1993)

Double Talk: The Erotics of Male Literary Collaboration (Routledge, 1989)


Hotel Theory (Soft Skull Press, 2007)

Moira Orfei in Aigues-Mortes (Soft Skull, 2004)

The Milk of Inquiry (Persea, 1999)

Opera libretto

Jackie O



Other Books Mentioned

Naked and Fiery Forms: Modern American Poetry by Women

The Bad Wife Handbook, Rachel Zucker

Naked Poetry: Recent American Poetry in Open Forms, Stephen Berg

Other Relevant Links

Adrienne Rich’s Poetry Became Political, but It Remained Rooted in Material Fact by Wayne Koestenbaum, published in the New York Times

The Visceral Visual Art of Wayne Koestenbaum by Ashlie Danielle Stevens, published in Hyperallergic

Option 3, Rachel Zucker, published in At Length magazine (second of two prose pieces on this page)

Conversation with Wayne Koestenbaum, Rachel Zucker and Matthew Rohrer, published in The Believer

The Class Politics of Decluttering by Stephanie Land for the New York Times


Brian Cassidy, Bookseller

Donate Your Books!

Housing Works

The African Library Project

Reading Reflections

Project Cicero

Many thanks to 192 Books for allowing Commonplace to record and share Wayne’s reading and Q& A.

Sep 29, 2016
Episode 8: Craig Morgan Teicher

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, critic, professor, and overall poetry-immersed figure Craig Morgan Teicher. The two discuss Teicher’s various roles in the poetry community, the poetry economy, and the glimpses into people’s inner lives that poetry affords. By delving into his past as an aspiring comedian and his eventual path to poetry, Teicher offers an insight into what motivates him both professionally and personally in his current life. Through their conversation, Teicher and Zucker attempt to tease out the connections between monstrousness and pain, why certain poets like Robert Lowell are drawn to the sonnet, and how poetry allows readers and poets to connect through a solitary medium.


Books by Craig:

To Keep Love Blurry (BOA Editions, 2012)

Cradle Book: Stories and Fables (BOA Editions (2010)

Brenda Is in the Room and Other Poems (Colorado Prize for Poetry, 2008)

Books and authors mentioned by Craig:

Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky With Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon, 2016)

From the New World: Collected Poems by Jorie Graham, 1976-2014 (Ecco, 2016)

Inner Voices: Selected Poems by Richard Howard, 1963-2003 (FSG, 2005)

Collected Poems by Robert Lowell (FSG, 2007)

Useless Landscape or, A Guide for Boys by D.A. Powell (Graywolf, 2014)

Once and for All: The Best of Delmore Schwartz (New Directions, 2016)

Rita Dove’s Collected Poems: 1974-2004 (W.W. Norton, 2016)

Tape for the Turn of the Year by A.R. Ammons (W.W. Norton, 1965)

So Much Synth by Brenda Shaughnessy (Copper Canyon, 2016)

If This Is a Man and The Truce by Primo Levi (Abacus reprint, 2003)

Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi (Touchstone reprint, 1996)

Imaginary Vessels by Paisley Rekdal and Andrea Modica (Copper Canyon, 2016)

Banana Palace by Dana Levin (Copper Canyon, 2016)

Other writing/works by Craig:

Rita Dove’s collected poems should put her back in the center of the American conversation” published by The Los Angeles Times

SCOTUS On Cellphones And The Privacy Of Poetry” a piece on NPR

Other items of interest:

A Hard Case” on the life and death of Primo Levi, published in The New Yorker

“To Speak of Woe That Is in Marriage” from COLLECTED POEMS by Robert Lowell. Copyright © 2003 by Harriet Lowell and Sheridan Lowell.  Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Sep 15, 2016
Episode 7: Cathy Park Hong

Rachel Zucker speaks with Cathy Park Hong, author of three books of poetry, professor at Sarah Lawrence, and recipient of the NEA, NYFA and Fulbright fellowships. They discuss how motherhood can change one’s poetic aesthetic, the limitations of poetry and prose, the intersections of poetry and politics, and the new phenomenon of “viral poems.” Cathy Park Hong shares her thoughts on why she uses persona and shifting pronouns in her poetry, and how writing nonfiction allows her to be more personal. Their conversation explores both poets’ optimism about and frustration with poetry.


Cathy Park Hong’s books:

Translating Mo’Um (Hanging Loose Press, 2002)

Dance Dance Revolution (W.W. Norton, 2008)

Engine Empire (W.W. Norton, 2013)

She also appeared in the Gurlesque anthology.

Here’s a video of her reading her poem “Get Away From it All”

Other writing by Cathy Park Hong

Delusions of Whiteness in the Avant-Garde”: an essay published in Lana Turner

“There’s a New Movement in American Poetry and It’s Not Kenneth Goldsmith”: an essay published in The New Republic

Memories and Thoughts on Adrienne Rich”: an essay in Harriet

Forecasts, a poem/video project produced for Triple Canopy, in collaboration with Adam Shecter

The Rub, a project produced for the New Museum in collaboration with Mores McWreath

Books and essays mentioned in this episode

The Gold Star Awards”: a statement by The Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo in Harriet

We Need Diverse Diverse Books”: an essay by Matthew Salesses in LitHub

The Rejection of Closure”: a talk by Lyn Hejinian, transcribed and published by the Poetry Foundation

The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich (W.W. Norton, 2013)

Look by Solmaz Sharif (Graywolf, 2016)

Blackacre by Monica Youn (Graywolf, 2016)

The Program Era by Mark McGurl (Harvard University Press, 2009)

In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman (Picador, 2015)

Related works by other writers

The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind, an anthology edited by Claudia Rankine (Fence, 2016)

The Collected Poems of Adrienne Rich (W.W. Norton, 2016)

White Debt,” an essay by Eula Biss, published in the New York Times Magazine

In the Same Breath: The Racial Politics of the Best American Poetry 2014” by Isaac Ginsberg Miller, published in the American Poetry Review

Sep 01, 2016
Episode 6: Erika Meitner

In this special two-part episode, Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Erika Meitner, author of four books, most recently Copia. In part one, Meitner details her circuitous route to becoming a poet, her early influences (especially the work of Mark Doty), and her conversational diction and increasingly straight-forward poetics. She explains that much of her work arises from a commitment to writing accurately and respectfully about the small town in which she lives, and the challenges of writing as an engaged member of her community while being an othered outsider, a poet, a Jew, and the white mother of a black son. Meitner and Zucker discuss documentary poetry, the ethical considerations of writing about real people, alternatives to the pastoral, and "gritpo," a term neither of them really understand. In part two, Meitner and Zucker speak by phone so that Meitner can describe her experience of reporting in verse while in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention. Their conversation explores the difference between poetry and media, the challenges of working on commission and on deadline, and the efficacy of poetry as a tool for social justice.



Erika Meitner’s essay on Rita Dove from the anthology Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections edited by Arielle Greenberg and Rachel Zucker

Erika Meitner’s website

Erika’s Books


Ideal Cities

MakeShift Instructions for Vigilant Girls

Inventory at the All-Night Drug Store

Erika’s Detroit project on Virginia Quarterly Review

Ryan Spencer Reed, the photographer that Erika worked with on the Cleveland / RNC Project

Links to documentary poets and specific books/projects Erika mentions

Philip Metres’s Sand Opera and a great essay Metres wrote for Poetry Foundation's Poetry and Journalism Symposium presented in conjunction with the Columbia School of Journalism on the question: Can poetry document an historical moment rather than just offer a subjective account of events?

Murial Rukeyser’s Book of the Dead [link to Collected Poems]

C.D. Wright’s One Big Self and One with Others

Nick Flynn’s The Ticking is the Bomb

Adrian Matejka’s The Big Smoke

Claudia Rankin’s Citizen

Susan B.A. Somers-Willet’s Women of Troy

Natasha Tretheway's Beyond Katrina

Kwame Dawes’s project on the spread of HIV in Jamaica - HOPE: Living and Loving with HIV in Jamaica

Mark Doty's My Alexandria


Aug 15, 2016
Episode 5: Matthew Rohrer

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Matthew Rohrer, author of eight books. The two discuss marriage, lightheartedness, serious poetic practice, little league baseball, and Rohrer’s collaboration with haiku masters in his most recent book, Surrounded by Friends. With jaunts into his own academic career and his influences, Rohrer speaks on his understanding of the New York School, an unpublished interview with Ron Padgett, and receiving criticism for being “too adoring.” The conversation touches on a variety of subjects, including Rohrer’s forthcoming book, his dreamed list of “what-not-to-do” in poetry, and the importance of addressing politics in his work.



Matthew Rohrer’s Books

Surrounded by Friends

Destroyer and Preserver

Rise Up

A Green Light

A Hummock in the Malookas


Nice Hat. Thanks. (Matthew Rohrer and Joshua Beckman)

Home/birth: a poemic (Arielle Greenberg and Rachel Zucker)

Other Books and Sources Mentioned in this Episode

Visit PennSound to listen to James Schuyler read “Hymn to Life"

Robert Hass' Essential Haiku

Maggie Nelson's Women, the New York School, and Other True Abstractions


Aug 01, 2016
Episode 4: Claudia Rankine

Award winning poet, playwright, professor, editor, essayist, and critic Claudia Rankine speaks with Rachel Zucker about collaboration, poetry’s role in social change, and the investigation of feeling. In this episode, Rankine discusses the importance of ideas put forward by writers such as James Baldwin and Adrienne Rich, the known unknown, the arena of consciousness, being a spectator, willed ignorance, and the illusion of difficulty in poetry.

Jul 15, 2016
Episode 3: John Murillo

In this episode, Rachel Zucker speaks with John Murillo, author of Up Jump the Boogie, about his initiation as a priest in La Regla de Ocha, his writing process, Philip Levine and other poets he loves, his thoughts on the ethics of writing poetry, and duende. Murillo explores the interstices of narrative and lyric poetry, the structure of love poems, how to navigate the line between one’s own story and the stories of others and what it means to be in someone’s poetry tribe.


John Murillo’s website

Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher Books, 2010)

Click here for Tracy K. Smith’s essay on duende

Click here for Federico García Lorca’s lecture on duende

Check out John's talk "The Ethics of Confession" on Village of Crickets!

Jun 30, 2016
Episode 2: Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn’s creativity knows no bounds. While he has written many books of poetry, including My Feelings, his most recent out from Graywolf Press, he is also the author of a play, a textbook, and three memoirs, one of which was adapted into the film Being Flynn. He’s also won many awards, including the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry. In his words, he has worked as “a ship's captain, an electrician, [and] a case-worker with homeless adults” though now he holds a prestigious teaching position at the University of Houston.

Jun 15, 2016
Episode 1: David Trinidad
David's photo was taken by Alyssa Lynee.
May 15, 2016