Poetry Unbound

By On Being Studios

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Subscribers: 1053
Reviews: 6

Lauren
 Dec 16, 2020
Each episode has a reading of a poem, followed by the host's musings or sharing of a related personal anecdote and then a repetition of the poem. A very soothing podcast. Hearing the poem a second time allows me to more deeply understand.

Denise
 Nov 2, 2020
Just discovered the new episodes. Life is good.


 Oct 15, 2020
Amazing.


 Mar 18, 2020

a listener
 Mar 9, 2020
saving my life

Description

Your poetry ritual: An immersive reading of a single poem, guided by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Unhurried, contemplative and energizing. New episodes on Monday and Friday, about 15 minutes each. Two seasons per year, with occasional special offerings. Anchor your life with poetry.

Episode Date
Donika Kelly — In the Chapel of St. Mary’s
00:14:57

Why do empty places sometimes lend themselves to reflection or contemplation? In this poem, a poet — describing herself as a nonbeliever — goes into a chapel to sit. In the corner there are some girls talking, there are stained glass windows, and the poet is at once at home in herself and far from the woman she loves. The high emptiness of the church seems to give a resting place for the emptiness she’s feeling. While there’s no resolution, the larger empty space offers a holding place for the poet.

Donika Kelly is the author of The Renunciations and Bestiary, the winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry, and the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. A Cave Canem graduate fellow and member of the collective Poets at the End of the World, Donika has also received a Lannan Residency Fellowship, and a summer workshop fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center. Her poems have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic online, The Paris Review, and Foglifter. She currently lives in Iowa City and is an Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches creative writing.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 29, 2021
Linda Hogan — Song for the Turtles of the Gulf
00:15:48

In a poem called a “Song,” Linda Hogan crafts a song for turtles and other creatures killed through oil spills in the gulf. At once a praise song for the beauty of the sea, the earth, and its animals, this song also functions as a lament: for the history erased by industrial practices; for the lack of respect and love for living breathing other-than-human lives; for plastic and the plastic containers used to hold the body of a dead sea turtle. The poem veers towards a prayer, too, begging forgiveness for being “thrown off true.”

Linda Hogan is a Chickasaw novelist, essayist, and environmentalist. She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and an MA in English and creative writing from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Her books of poetry include Dark. Sweet., The Book of Medicines, Seeing Through the Sun, and many more.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 26, 2021
Lory Bedikian — On the Way to Oshagan
00:17:36

The exile’s return to the motherland is the theme around which Lory Bedikian’s poem “On the Way to Oshagan” circles. She, a proud Armenian, stops by a roadside stall on a trip to her home country; and is immediately understood as an Amerigatzi, even though she’s speaking Armenian, not English. The poem could end with this awkward exchange, but instead pushes through, and a connection occurs between the returned-departed and the never-departed: there’s a gift, an invitation, and a bridge across exile.

Lory Bedikian received her BA from UCLA with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Poetry. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon, where she received the Dan Kimble First Year Teaching Award for Poetry. Bedikian's The Book of Lamenting won the 2010 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. She currently teaches poetry workshops in Los Angeles.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 22, 2021
Nico Amador — Flower Wars
00:12:24

Telling some of the story of the Flower Wars of the Aztec era, Nico Amador’s poem pits wars against creation. In a poem that begins by recalling creation myths from multiple cultures, he then poses questions about why: Why would people sacrifice their own people to keep a god happy? Why would any god benefit from people’s deaths? Evoking how the Flower Wars contributed to the Aztec downfall, this poem also wonders about wars today: Who benefits from a war? Who decides who should die? Why?

Nico Amador has been published in a number of journals and anthologies. His chapbook, Flower Wars, was selected as the winner of the Anzaldúa Poetry Prize and was published by Newfound Press in 2017. He is a grant recipient of the Vermont Arts Council, an alumni of the Lambda Literary Foundation's Writers Retreat and an MFA candidate at Bennington College.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 19, 2021
Darrel Alejandro Holnes — Amending Wall
00:17:08

In a poem that directly addresses Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,” Darrel Alejandro Holnes asks questions: who gets to build walls, or guard borders?. Do good fences really make good neighbors? Taking a poem that’s been part of an American imagination both of poetry and of citizenship, Darrel offers a critique that places contemporary migrant experiences at the center, challenging contemporary ideas of territory, conquest, and expansion.

Darrel Alejandro Holnes is the author of Stepmotherland & Migrant Psalms. Holnes is an Afro-Panamanian American writer, performer, and educator. His writing has been published in English, Spanish, and French in literary journals, anthologies, and other books worldwide and online. He also writes for the stage. Most of his writing centers on love, family, race, immigration, and joy. He works as a college professor in New York City, NY.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 15, 2021
Elizabeth Bishop — Sestina
00:15:33

This sestina poem considers a scene from Elizabeth Bishop’s own childhood through the sounds of six repeating words: house, grandmother, child, stove, almanac, tears. These six words repeat — in different order — as the final words of the poem’s lines, creating a kind of contemplation on how those repeated words informed her childhood: a childhood marked by loss, displacement, and a kind grandmother. “Time to plant tears” the poem states, in one of its most famous lines, as if the scene recalled has information about the future.

Elizabeth Bishop was an American poet and writer. She served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1949 to 1950, was the Pulitzer Prize winner for Poetry in 1956, and won the National Book Award in 1970.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 12, 2021
Major Jackson — Blunts
00:16:05

Some friends gather and smoke at a doorway in a city. There’s Malik, and Johnny Cash, and Lefty, and Jësus. And the poet, Major Jackson. They’ve known each other their whole lives, and they wonder who they’ll turn out to be. In a moment of disclosure, Major tells his friends he wants to be a poet, astonishing them, and himself too it seems. In friendship and ribbing, in desire and teasing, this poem wonders who a person is, and what it means to hope.

Major Jackson is the author of five books of poetry, including The Absurd Man (2020), Roll Deep (2015), Holding Company (2010), Hoops (2006) and Leaving Saturn (2002), which won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems. Major Jackson lives in Nashville, Tennessee where he is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Chair in the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. He serves as the Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 08, 2021
Andrés Cerpa — Seasonal without Spring: Autumn
00:16:38

Andrés Cerpa recollects how his father’s early dementia was an increasing influence on his early years. As he grew, his father diminished. The burden of this was heavy on him — he stayed awake listening for information, and fell asleep at school. Older now, he looks at his younger self with tenderness and sadness. This poem gives attention to the experience of the growing presence of absence, and the ways that affects memory, family, and perspective.

Andrés Cerpa is the author of Bicycle in a Ransacked City: An Elegy, and The Vault from Alice James Books. A recipient of fellowships from McDowell and Canto Mundo, his work has appeared in Ploughshares, Poem-a-Day, The Kenyon Review, The Rumpus, Puerto Rico en mi Corazón, The Breakbeat Poets Vol 4: LatiNext,  The Nation, and elsewhere. He holds degrees from the University of Delaware and Rutgers University Newark.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 05, 2021
Kaveh Akbar — How Prayer Works
00:15:16

A narrative prose poem about two brothers — one on a visit home from college — who are turning to face east in their small shared room. With seven years between them, one is a young man and the other, the poet, is nearing his teens. Their prayer is interrupted by a sudden surprising noise, and the sound of this makes them fall over each other in laughing. Their bodies, their joy, their uncontrollable delight is the prayer of their own lives.

Kaveh Akbar is an Iranian-American poet and scholar. He is the author of Pilgrim Bell, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, and the chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic. His poems appear in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Paris Review, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. In 2020, Kaveh was named Poetry Editor of The Nation.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 01, 2021
Gail McConnell — Worm
00:14:17

In a poem that addresses a worm directly as “you,” Gail McConnell considers how these tube-shaped beings live: ingesting the earth, aerating it, digesting it, making its nourishment accessible for all kinds of growth. The worm burrows, knows dead things, and knows underground ways. Tiny and segmented though a worm is, nonetheless it senses that “all there is // can be gone through.” The poem’s close attention to the worm’s tactics of survival seems to indicate that much could be learned from its underground ways.

Gail McConnell publishes literary criticism and poetry and is curious about the living and the dead. Her writing interests include violence, creatureliness, queerness and the possibilities and politics of language and form. She is the author of The Sun is Open, Northern Irish Poetry and Theology, and two pamphlets of poetry: Fothermather and Fourteen.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 29, 2021
Romeo Oriogun — Pink Club
00:16:44

A club is a place for dancing, for abandon, for music, and for meeting strangers. Romeo Oriogun recalls a gay club that was for all those things, but also for escape. Living in a place where queer lives were under threat, he offers a praise song for this cathedral of safety and movement. Outside the world is silent, but inside the bar, people carry stories of their own desire, of their families, of their hopes; both for the future and the present.

Romeo Oriogun is a Nigerian poet, essayist, and author of Sacrament of Bodies (University of Nebraska) and three chapbooks. He is the winner of the 2017 Brunel International African Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Harvard Review, American Poetry Review, Poetry London, The Poetry Review, Narrative Magazine, The Common, and others. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, his poems have been translated into several languages.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 25, 2021
Kathleen Flenniken — Married Love
00:16:40

In a poem of extraordinary poise, Kathleen Flenniken recounts her parents’ lively parties, their rich social life, their summer trips, and their friendships: friendships that were not always straightforward. The poem closes with an observation of a moment of sexual tension between her mother and another man. Kathleen’s right there, but feels like she’s barely noticed. Everyone goes to bed alone, and we are left with the poet and her awareness of what lay underneath the surface.

Kathleen Flenniken is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Post Romantic, selected by Linda Bierds for the Pacific Northwest Poetry Series and published by University of Washington Press in Fall 2020. Kathleen’s awards include a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Artist Trust. She served as Washington State Poet Laureate from 2012 – 2014.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 22, 2021
Imtiaz Dharker — Don’t Miss Out! Book Right Now for the Journey of a Lifetime!
00:11:40

A love poem with a playful title that sounds like an ad from a travel agent unfolds into a poem about choosing to stay at home. Imtiaz Dharker’s husband died in the years between this poem’s setting and its publishing. The poem, too, moves from long lines across the page into shorter and shorter lines. In sensuality, locality, intimacy, and simplicity, this poem is all about the man she loved, and moves from noise to focus: “You Are / Here” its final lines assert.

Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist and video film-maker. She was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014. Her poems are on the British GCSE and A Level English syllabus, and she reads with other poets at Poetry Live! events all over the country to more than 25,000 students a year. She has been Poet in Residence at Cambridge University Library, worked on a series of poems based on the Archives of St Paul’s Cathedral as well as projects across art forms in Leeds, Newcastle and Hull. She has had eleven solo exhibitions of drawings in India, London, New York and Hong Kong. She scripts and directs films, many of them for non-government organizations in India, working in the area of shelter, education and health for women and children.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 18, 2021
No’u Revilla — Smoke Screen
00:18:01

The life of a sugar worker is the center of this poem: a worker whose body and person bear the imprint of that industry, with its demands and smoke and exhaustion. The worker in question is the poet’s father, and No’u Revilla brings us into a consideration of how he takes pride in work that depleted him, how he needed to find ways to recover from work that exhausted him, how in his body he carries the story of Hawaii and its indigenous people.

No‘u Revilla (she/her) is an ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) queer poet and educator. Born and raised with the Līlīlehua rain of Waiʻehu on the island of Maui, she currently lives and loves with the Līlīlehua rain of Pālolo in the ahupuaʻa of Waikīkī on Oʻahu. She has performed and facilitated workshops throughout the pae ʻāina of Hawaiʻi as well as in Papua New Guinea, Canada, and the United Nations. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa and is proud to have taught poetry at Puʻuhuluhulu University in the summer 2019 as she stood with her lāhui to protect Maunakea. A winner of the 2021 National Poetry Series, her debut poetry book will be published by Milkweed Editions in 2022.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 15, 2021
BONUS: A Conversation with No’u Revilla
00:33:51

While preparing for this week’s episode of Poetry Unbound, host Pádraig Ó Tuama began an email correspondence with the poet, No‘u Revilla. The exchange was so rich that Pádraig asked No‘u to join him in conversation. Together they talk about poetry, queerness and how Hawaiian language, culture, and history show up in her poetry.

No‘u Revilla (she/her) is an ʻŌiwi (Native Hawaiian) queer poet and educator. Born and raised with the Līlīlehua rain of Waiʻehu on the island of Maui, she currently lives and loves with the Līlīlehua rain of Pālolo in the ahupuaʻa of Waikīkī on Oʻahu. She has performed and facilitated workshops throughout the pae ʻāina of Hawaiʻi as well as in Papua New Guinea, Canada, and the United Nations. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Hawaiʻi-Mānoa and is proud to have taught poetry at Puʻuhuluhulu University in the summer 2019 as she stood with her lāhui to protect Maunakea. A winner of the 2021 National Poetry Series, her debut poetry book will be published by Milkweed Editions in 2022.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 15, 2021
Jake Skeets — Daybreak
00:17:53

In a slight change to the normal format, host Pádraig Ó Tuama speaks with the poet Jake Skeets who reads his poem “Daybreak,” a poem combining Diné language with English, a poem rich with observation: of land, of growth, of memory, of place. Land is not just a tool to use for food, nor is it a blank space for human projection. In this poem, Jake Skeets reflects on an ethical engagement with land: an engagement that sees land as itself, not just for its uses.

Jake Skeets is the author of Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, winner of the National Poetry Series. He is the recipient of a 92Y Discovery Prize, a Mellon Projecting All Voices Fellowship, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Award. He is from the Navajo Nation and teaches at Diné College.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 11, 2021
Tishani Doshi — Species
00:15:27

In a fantastical poem about the future, Tishani Doshi explores the present. She imagines a future where agriculture, forestry, and cultivation are things of the past, distant memories learned by humans existing on other planets, or on intergalactic spaceships. That distant future is reflecting on how it should have learned from the grass, abundant, generous, sustainable. This poem of dystopian magic-realism is more real than magic, offering advice on thriving, while noting the knife-edge of self-destruction so familiar to human behavior.

Tishani Doshi was born in the city formerly known as Madras in 1975. She has published seven books of poetry and fiction. Her essays, poems and short stories have been widely anthologized. She is Visiting Associate Professor of Practice, Literature and Creative Writing at New York University, Abu Dhabi.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 08, 2021
Jason Allen-Paisant — Right now I’m Standing
00:16:09

In a poem considering trees, Jason Allen-Paisant opens up many associations with trees: in a woodland, there’s a dead tree, from which new forms of life are finding sustenance. He, a Black man in the woods, is aware of people looking suspiciously at him. The poem reflects on how trees were used for building the ships of enslavers, who considered countries and people their property. In light of this, he shares a nature poem about all the things that nature holds.

Jason Allen-Paisant is a Jamaican poet whose first poetry collection, Thinking with Trees, was published by Carcanet Press in 2021. His work has also appeared in PN Review, the Poetry Review and Callaloo. He teaches in the School of English at the University of Leeds.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 04, 2021
Jacob Shores-Argüello — Make Believe
00:16:22

In a short poem recalling a childhood response to grief, Jacob Shores-Argüello brings us into the fantasy world of a child: leaving an ill adult in a hospital bed, he and his cousin take to the mountains, turn magically into bears, and begin tearing holes in the earth for rest while the world continues below. Are they escaping? Or playing with rage? This extraordinary poem is a thing of wonder and survival.

Jacob Shores-Argüello is a Costa Rican American poet and prose writer. He is the author of poetry books  In The Absence of Clocks and Paraíso, which was selected for the inaugural CantoMundo Poetry Prize judged by Aracelis Girmay. He is a 2018/019 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and a Lannan Literary Fellow for Poetry. His poetry appears in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, and The Academy of American Poets, among others. His fiction appears in The Oxford American, among others.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 01, 2021
Margaret Atwood — All Bread
00:15:23

In a poem of four stanzas, Margaret Atwood traces bread from its growth in bone-nurtured soil, to the warm ovens of baking, to the table, to the mouth of one person, then the hands of someone breaking bread for many. From the cow-dung in the earth to the salt of the hands of the person kneading the bread, this poem is like a meditation on the material reality of what nurtures the body and what nurtures the soul, and is a secular examination of what breaking bread might mean.

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than fifty books of fiction, poetry, critical essays, and graphic novels. Her latest novel, The Testaments, is a co-winner of the 2019 Booker Prize. It is the long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale, now an award-winning TV series. She lives in Toronto.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Sep 27, 2021
Poetry Unbound — Season 4 Trailer
00:01:50

Poetry Unbound with host Pádraig Ó Tuama is back on Monday, September 27. Featured poets in this season include Margaret Atwood, Kaveh Akbar, Danez Smith, Tishani Doshi, and many more. New episodes released every Monday and Friday through December 17.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Overcast, or wherever you listen.

Sep 20, 2021
Katie Manning — What to Expect
00:19:58

This poem stretches the word ‘expect’ into dozens of formulations. Proceeding alphabetically  through the index of the book, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” Katie Manning creates an exhausting list of all the expectations created during pregnancy,about rejecting some pressures and embracing others; surviving some, being knocked over by others. The humor and pace of this poem places insight alongside insidiousness.

Katie Manning is the founding editor-in-chief of Whale Road Review and a professor of writing at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She is the author of Tasty Other, which won the 2016 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and her fifth chapbook, 28,065 Nights, is available from River Glass Books. Her poems have appeared in American Journal of Nursing, december, The Lascaux Review, Kahini Quarterly, and many others. Find her online at www.katiemanningpoet.com.

Listen to Poetry Unbound Plus here.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Jun 18, 2021
Ilya Kaminsky — We Lived Happily during the War
00:16:37

The opening poem to Ilya Kaminsky’s masterpiece, “Deaf Republic,” is written in the voice of someone who is confessing their complacency during a time of trial. There’s a war going on, but it doesn’t affect the person speaking, so they don’t get involved. Instead they stayed outside and caught the sun. They lived happily during the war, and are now saying (forgive us). This poem leaves us wondering what it would mean to make such a confession, to ask for forgiveness, and whether it’d do any good.

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, former Soviet Union in 1977, and arrived in the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. He is the author of Deaf Republic and Dancing In Odessa, and has co-edited and co-translated many other books, including Ecco Anthology of International Poetry and Dark Elderberry Branch: Poems of Marina Tsvetaeva. He holds the Bourne Chair in Poetry at Georgia Institute of Technology and lives in Atlanta.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Jun 14, 2021
Margaret Noodin — Gimaazinibii’amoon (A Message to You)
00:16:03

A special bilingual poem in Anishinaabemowin and English by Margaret Noodin, a linguist who writes primarily in Anishinaabemowin. This poem of eight lines is filled with location —  the sweet sea, the curved shoreline — and gathers melancholy into its song. And it is a song — sung in both languages for us by Margaret Noodin herself.

Margaret Noodin is a poet and the author of Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature, Weweni: Poems in Anishinaabemowin and English, and What the Chickadee Knows. She teaches American Indian Literature, Celtic Literature, Indigenous Language Revitalization and Anishinaabemowin language at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Margaret is the editor of ojibwe.net and the Papers of the Algonquian Conference.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Jun 11, 2021
BONUS: A Conversation with Margaret Noodin
00:24:14

After Margaret Noodin recited her poem, “Gimaazinibii'amoon” / “A Message to You,” for this week’s Poetry Unbound episode, she spoke with host, Pádraig Ó Tuama, about the story behind that poem as well as the Anishinaabemowin language, translation, and the importance of language preservation.

Margaret Noodin is a poet and the author of Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature, Weweni: Poems in Anishinaabemowin and English, and What the Chickadee Knows. She teaches American Indian Literature, Celtic Literature, Indigenous Language Revitalization and Anishinaabemowin language at University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Margaret is the editor of ojibwe.net and the Papers of the Algonquian Conference.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Jun 11, 2021
Martín Espada — After the Goose that Rose Like the God of Geese
00:16:25

Bereavement brings all kinds of pressures. This poem by Martín Espada starts off with a grief-to-do-list: a phone call, a flight, a blizzard, cremations, shipments of ashes, memorial services. After all of this — in a first stanza that builds in intensity — he needs to be reconnected with something tangible. He goes to feed birds at the park, and among the birds is a goose, like a god of the geese, who shrieks with all the emotion stored in him. This goose is like a priest of grief for Martín Espada, voicing the sounds of all that he’s feeling.

Martín Espada has published more than twenty books as a poet, editor, essayist and translator. His new book of poems from Norton is called Floaters. Other books of poems include Vivas to Those Who Have Failed, The Trouble Ball, and Alabanza. A former tenant lawyer in Greater Boston, Espada is a professor of English at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Jun 07, 2021
Roshni Goyate — Coconut Oil
00:16:41

In many ways this poem can be analyzed by how it ends: by examining the contents of organic shops. Roshni Goyate looks at one such item — coconut oil for hair —  and considers its long line of history in her British-Indian family. As a child, she was shamed by classmates for using coconut oil in her hair, but now it’s double the price in shops. In a cruel irony, her race and culture were both hypervisible to those who taunted her and rendered invisible by those same people who invalidated her presence and citizenship.

Roshni Goyate is one quarter of the 4 BROWN GIRLS WHO WRITE poetry collective. Together they have published a book of poetry, a zine of essays, and most recently, a collection of solo works, published by Rough Trade Books, in which Roshni's pamphlet, Shadow Work, appears. Roshni is a Londoner, proud daughter of Indian immigrants and co-founder of The Other Box, an inclusion and equity company.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Jun 04, 2021
b: william bearhart — When I Was in Las Vegas and Saw a Warhol Painting of Geronimo
00:14:28

When looking at Andy Warhol’s painting of Geronimo —  a leader and medicine man of the Bedonkohe band of the Apache tribe —  b: william bearheart wonders who the Geronimo of the painting is looking back at, and who is looking at it. In many ways, this poem reflects on how this piece of art depicting an Indigenous American was painted by a White person for White people. However, the poet finds connections — of pain, occupation and experience — between himself and Geronimo; and the poem challenges the centrality of the White european gaze.

b: william bearhart is a direct descendent of the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin. A graduate of the Lo-Rez MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, bearhart’s work appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through (W. W. Norton, 2020). His work can be found in Bloom, North American Review, Plume, Prairie Schooner, and Tupelo Quarterly, among others. bearhart worked as a poker dealer in a small Wisconsin casino. He died in August, 2020.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

May 31, 2021
Esteban Rodríguez — 22 La Bota
00:16:01

A poet considers his father, and, particularly, his father’s boots. These boots could be a hammer, a prop, a weapon. But Esteban Rodríguez also remembers how his father — a sleepwalker — would walk outside at night in his underwear, wielding his boots, slapping them against each other in a kind of protective ritual. What spirits was his father protecting them from? What was he asserting about land and place, by standing guard, even in his dreams?

Esteban Rodríguez is the author of five poetry collections, most recently, The Valley. His debut essay collection Before the Earth Devours Us will be published by Split/Lip Press in late 2021. He is the Interviews Editor for the EcoTheo Review, an Assistant Poetry Editor for AGNI, and a regular reviews contributor for Heavy Feather Review. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

May 28, 2021
Reginald Dwayne Betts — Essay on Reentry
00:17:28

This ‘Essay on Reentry’ charts life after prison: and the way that others keep your sentence alive even when you’re wishing to just get on with your own life. It’s about secrets and choice and disclosure. And in the midst of all this, there is also love between a son and his dad, a son like a “straggling angel, / lost from his pack finding a way to fulfill his / duty.”

Reginald Dwayne Betts is the author of a memoir and three books of poetry. His memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, was awarded the 2010 NAACP Image Award for non-fiction. His books of poetry are Shahid Reads His Own Palm, Bastards of the Reagan Era, and Felon. He is a graduate of Prince George’s Community College, the University of Maryland, the MFA Program at Warren Wilson College, and is currently a PhD student at Yale Law School.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

May 24, 2021
Li-Young Lee — From Blossoms
00:15:00

A poem about blossoms that is not only about blossoms. Li-Young Lee remembers a glorious day when he and a companion bought peaches; peaches that had come from blossoms. And in the taste of peaches, the brown paper bag they came in, sold by a boy at a bend in a road, the poem tells us — again and again — that sweetness, yearning and generosity is possible, on all kinds of days.

Li-Young Lee is the author of five critically acclaimed books of poetry, most recently The Undressing. His earlier books of poetry include Book of My Nights; Behind My Eyes; Rose, winner of the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University; and The City in Which I Love You, the 1990 Lamont Poetry Selection.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

May 21, 2021
Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo — Battlegrounds
00:15:33

This poem takes place on battlegrounds. The poet — Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo — is at Gettysburg National Military Park, where she wanders around the cemetery searching for the graves of Mexican soldiers. Instead she finds KKK books on display in the park’s visitors gift shop. So much of this poem is about unearthing, and making offerings of devotion and life: the poet makes offerings to her ancestors, but she also makes offerings of water bottles to migrants at border crossings.

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo  is the daughter of Mexican immigrants and the author of Posada: Offerings of Witness and Refuge. She considers herself an experiential witness poet for today’s America, and in 2017, she was the Gettysburg National Military Park’s “Poet in the Park,” in partnership with National Parks Arts Foundation and the Poetry Foundation. Her poem, "Battlegrounds," featured in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day series, was written during this time. A former Steinbeck Fellow, Xochitl Julisa Bermejo is the director of Women Who Submit, a literary organization fighting for gender parity in publishing.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

May 17, 2021
Matthew Olzmann — Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised as a Love Poem
00:16:31

In this love poem, Matthew Olzmann writes about his wife — the poet Vievee Francis whose poem for Matthew was featured in the previous episode — and the reasons why their marriage might work: her courage, her tenacity, her quirks, her multiplicities. He recounts instances of her generosity and lands on a story of how, when she was down to her “last damn dime,” she  still bought a bottle of Mountain Dew for him, because she knew he loved it. This is a cinematic and musical poem, making exquisite use of a particular object: a bottle of soda, holding fizz in it, and symbolizing more love than it could contain.

Matthew Olzmann  was born in Detroit, Michigan. He received a BA from the University of Michigan–Dearborn and an MFA from Warren Wilson College. He is the author of Contradictions in the Design and Mezzanines, winner of the 2011 Kundiman Poetry Prize. Olzmann has received fellowships from the Kresge Arts Foundation and Kundiman, among others. He teaches at Warren Wilson College and lives in North Carolina with his wife, the poet Vievee Francis.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

May 14, 2021
Vievee Francis — How Delicious to Say It
00:15:18

Building up in lists of delicious words — uvular, hibiscus, loquacious, shuttlecock, dollop, chipotles and chocolate — this poem uses sensual language to make a simple point. Vievee Francis moves past these words and all their suggestions by telling us that her favorite word is the name of her husband — the poet Matthew Olzmann — and how she loves it when he says her name. Love, like this poem, can rejoice in many things, and take its own time to unfold its own delight.

Vievee Francis is the author of Blue-Tail Fly, Horse in the Dark, and Forest Primeval, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry. She is an associate professor at Dartmouth College and an associate editor for Callaloo.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

May 10, 2021
Eavan Boland — Eviction
00:15:37

This poem offers critique into a moment of Irish history when Ireland, through independence, was rising to the light. But Irish women were facing lives as constricted in independence as under empire. Decades later, Eavan Boland reads a newspaper of her grandmother’s near-eviction and is consumed both by rage and critique of how history concerns itself with the politics of men, not women. This poem is a corrective, turning the gaze on historians, as well as history.

Eavan Boland was an Irish poet, author, and professor at Stanford University, where she taught from 1996. Her work deals with the Irish national identity, and the role of women in Irish history. Her books of poetry include The Historians: Poems, Against Love Poetry: Poems, New Collected Poems, and many more.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

May 07, 2021
Jónína Kirton — Reconciliation
00:13:43

This poem starts off by describing how split the poet — Jónína Kirton — feels between two identities: having both Métis and Icelandic heritage. The poem imagines a bridge between these two places and cultures, and arrives, in the second stanza, at the image of a “living root bridge.”It is in this image that the poem anchors itself: a bridge that is part of the earth, a bridge that lives, that is not torn, but alive and growing. This metaphor speaks to what is possible in a life, and helps Jónína Kirton thrive in the tension she thought would tear her.

Jónína Kirton is a Red River Métis/Icelandic poet and a graduate of the Simon Fraser University’s Writer’s Studio where she is currently their BIPOC Auntie supporting and mentoring BIPOC students. In 2016, she received the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for an Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts category. Her books of poetry include page as bone ~ ink as blood and An Honest Woman, which was a finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

May 03, 2021
Lorna Goodison — Reporting Back to Queen Isabella
00:12:48

In Lorna Goodison’s imagined scene, Spain’s Queen Isabella receives the ‘report’ of the discovery of Xamaica from Christopher Columbus, an Italian man who was financed by the Spanish court to ransack foreign lands. Lorna Goodison is the former Poet Laureate of Jamaica, and in this tight, terse poem, she’s the explorer: exploring practices of colonization, finance, power and administration. With pomp and ceremony she describes a scene that was as vacuous as it was dangerous.

Lorna Goodison is one of the Caribbean's most distinguished contemporary poets. Her work appears in the Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces and her many honors include the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, Americas Region. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Supplying Salt and Light, Controlling the Silver, Traveling Mercies, and many more. Her work, translated into many languages, is widely published and anthologized.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Apr 30, 2021
Hanif Abdurraqib — When We Were 13, Jeff’s Father Left The Needle Down On A Journey Record Before Leaving The House One Morning And Never Coming Back
00:16:39

Music works a kind of poetry in us. This poem is like a mix-tape of Hanif Abdurraqib’s memories, complete with a soundtrack that’s as roaring as it is tender. An adult now, he remembers moments of grief and growth in the adults of his childhood, and how Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” opens up more than just those memories. In a poem that you can almost dance along with, Hanif  wraps other people’s griefs — and his own — into language that uplifts.

Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His books include A Little Devil in America: Notes in Praise of Black Performance, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, and A Fortune for your Disaster.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Apr 26, 2021
Poetry Unbound — Season 3 Trailer
00:02:10

Poetry Unbound with host Pádraig Ó Tuama is back on Monday, April 26. Featured poets in this season include Hanif Abdurraqib, Vievee Francis, Ilya Kaminsky, Li-Young Lee, and Eavan Boland. New episodes released every Monday and Friday through June 18.

Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Overcast, or wherever you listen.

Apr 19, 2021
Christian Wiman — All My Friends Are Finding New Beliefs
00:11:21

Who are the friends that, despite different paths chosen, have remained steadfast in your life?

In this poem Christian Wiman recalls the changing beliefs of his friends; this one has a new diet, this one has a new relationship, this one is slipping away, this one is verdant. While doing so, he holds the love for his “beautiful, credible friends” as the thing to hold on to while the planet turns faster.

Christian Wiman is the author of numerous works of poetry and prose, including He Held Radical Light: The Art of Faith, the Faith of Art and a new book of poems, Survival Is a Style: Poems. He is a professor at Yale Divinity School.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Dec 18, 2020
Carlos Andrés Gómez — Father
00:17:16

How has becoming a parent — or being a caregiver — changed you? 

This is a poem of two halves. In the first half, a man questions God — how could a loving Father allow suffering to happen? And in the second half, the man becomes a father himself, filled with fear and love. His questions about fatherhood change; he’s no longer wondering about the beyond, he’s wondering about the right now.

Carlos Andrés Gómez is a Colombian American poet from New York City. “Father” appears in his debut full-length poetry collection Fractures, which was selected by Natasha Trethewey as the winner of the 2020 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. Gómez has won the Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry and the Atlanta Review International Poetry Prize. His work has been published in New England Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Yale Review, and elsewhere.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Dec 14, 2020
Ellen Bass — Bone of My Bone and Flesh of My Flesh
00:15:50

What pet names have you been called? What are the circumstances and stories behind these pet names?

In this poem, a woman considers the pet names to give her female partner; “My beloved” isn’t very convenient when you’re dropping off dry cleaning. And what word to use when speaking of how she annoys you? Written in the time before same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S., the humor of this poem highlights how policy can steal language from the everyday.

Ellen Bass is chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and teaches at Pacific University. Her poems regularly appear in The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and many other journals. In 1973, she co-edited the first major anthology of women’s poetry, No More Masks! and in 1988 co-wrote The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse. Her most recent book is Indigo.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Dec 11, 2020
R.A. Villanueva — Life Drawing
00:14:28

Who do you trust with your body? 

In this poem, a man writes about his wife’s life-drawing class. She’s been sketching a naked male model for weeks, and the poet worries, comparing himself, trying to figure out how he feels. This poem moves from anxiety to request to consent to reciprocality. His self-consciousness about sharing his body with someone is transformed into trust and vulnerability.

R.A. Villanueva is the author of Reliquaria, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. His honors include commendations from the Forward Prizes and fellowships from Kundiman and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and lives in Brooklyn.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Dec 07, 2020
Zaffar Kunial — The Word
00:11:30

Have you ever projected your own awkwardness onto someone else? How did you do it? And how would you address them now? 

This poem recalls how, as a young adult, Zaffar Kunial judged his immigrant father’s way of speaking English. A poem that’s filled with adolescence as with awkward parental relationships, it also speaks of his yearning to fit in, to enjoy his own life. Shame features in this poem — the younger poet had been ashamed of his father’s grammar, but now, with time, he seems ashamed to have been that son.

Zaffar Kunial was born in Birmingham to an English mother and a Kashmiri father. He has served poet-in-residence for the Wordsworth Trust and Ledbury Poetry Festival, and has spoken at various literature festivals and on BBC Radio. His poem “The Word” won the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize. Us is his first collection.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Dec 04, 2020
Dilruba Ahmed — Phase One
00:15:55

What do you find hard to forgive in yourself? What might help? 

In this poem, the poet makes a list of all the things she holds against herself: opening fridge doors, fantasies, wilted seedlings, unkempt plants, lost bags, feeling awkward, treating someone poorly. Dilruba Ahmed repeats the line “I forgive you” over and over, like a litany, in a hope to deepen what it means to be in the world, and be a person of love.

Dilruba Ahmed – is the author of the collection Bring Now the Angels and poems featured in New York Times Magazine, The Slowdown, and The Best American Poetry 2019. Her debut book of poetry, Dhaka Dust, won the Bakeless Prize. Ahmed is part of the MFA faculty at Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers and Chatham University’s MFA Program, and teaches regularly with Hugo House and The Writing Lab.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 30, 2020
Layli Long Soldier — WHEREAS my eyes land on the shoreline
00:17:01

When you feel like crying, do you cry? Or do you stifle it? Why? 

The U.S. Congress 2009 “Joint resolution to acknowledge a long history of official depredations and ill-conceived policies by the Federal Government regarding Indian tribes” stated Whereas the arrival of Europeans in North America opened a new chapter in the history of Native Peoples.” Layli Long Soldier wrote poems in response to this resolution and its non-consultative process. In this poem, she speaks of the need to let griefs and laments be heard and acknowledged.

Layli Long Soldier – is the recipient of the 2015 Lannan Fellowship for Poetry and a 2015 National Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. Her first book of poetry, WHEREAS, won the Whiting Award and was named a finalist for the National Book Award. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 27, 2020
Chen Chen — I Invite My Parents to a Dinner Party
00:18:45

In this poem, a son writes to his parents and invites them to a meal, letting them know that his boyfriend will also be there. He gives instruction to his parents on how they should behave, parenting his parents. In all this family tension, the boyfriend’s question “What’s in that recipe again?” offers calm, and builds lines of connection that had otherwise seemed unlikely.

Chen Chen – is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for the National Book Award for Poetry and won the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. He teaches at Brandeis University as the Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence. 

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 23, 2020
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill — Ceist na Teangan (The Language Issue)
00:12:41

Are there languages that once were spoken in your family that are not anymore? What caused those changes? 

This poem considers the plight of a language, how it — like the child Moses in the biblical story of the Exodus — is vulnerable, and might be in need of someone like the Pharaoh’s daughter to nurture it. In considering the precarious situation of many lesser-spoken languages, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill casts a story of language preservation through the archetype of women helping women in ancient texts. 

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill – is one of the most prominent poets writing in the Irish language today. Her poetry collections include Pharaoh’s Daughter, The Astrakhan Cloak, and Cead Isteach/Entry Permitted. Her work has been translated into English by a number of well-known Irish poets, including Seamus Heaney, Medbh McGuckian, and Paul Muldoon.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 20, 2020
Aracelis Girmay — Consider the Hands that Write this Letter
00:12:37

When you’re writing by hand, where is your other hand? What story is the space between your two hands — your dominant hand and non-dominant hand — telling?

This poem considers the posture of the body when writing: writing a letter, writing a note, writing a poem. The poet pays attention to hands — when dancing, when speaking from the heart, in prayer. This poem invites the listener to slow down, to listen to the stories the body is telling by how it's held in small moments.   

Aracelis Girmay is originally from Southern California and now lives in New York. She is the author of the poetry collections Teeth, Kingdom Animalia, and The Black Maria. Her essay "From Woe to Wonder" can be read in the Arts & Culture section of The Paris Review (June, 2020). Girmay recently edited How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton and she is on the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 16, 2020
Tayi Tibble — Our Nan Lets Us Smoke Inside
00:13:38

Who is in your chosen family? 

This poem considers the lines of loyalty in families and how particular memories, like a grandmother keeping “wishbones from chicken carcasses / in an empty margarine container on top of the fridge,” can be a portal to love. The nan in this poem is a character of generosity and permission, and we imagine her through stories of trips, funerals, and visits.

Tayi Tibble – (Te Whānau-ā-Apanui/Ngāti Porou) is a writer and poet who lives in Wellington, New Zealand. In 2017 she completed a Masters in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University of Wellington, where she was the recipient of the Adam Foundation Prize. Poūkahangatus is her first book.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

 

Nov 13, 2020
Paul Tran — The Cave
00:11:42

What have you had to explore on your own? What, or who, helped? 

This poem explores the archetype of the cave — a cave that calls, a cave that contains secrets and perhaps even information. “Someone standing at the mouth had / the idea to enter. To go further / than light or language could / go.” The poem manages — at once — to convey the bravery of exploration and the solitude and possibility that can accompany such journeys.

Paul Tran – is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and a Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize. Their work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, Good Morning America, NYLON, and elsewhere, including the RZA-directed movie Love Beats Rhymes alongside Azealia Banks, Common, and Jill Scott.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 10, 2020
Philip Metres — One Tree
00:15:36

What do you notice about how you behave in times of conflict? Do you tend toward avoidance? Or compromise? Or collaboration? Or competition? Or accommodation?

This poem describes a conflict between neighbors: a tree hangs over a fence. The owners love this tree; their neighbors don’t. Somebody responds directly, somebody else avoids, a chainsaw appears. Suddenly this conflict becomes a parable for all conflicts, illustrating how deep they can go and how often they cannot be resolved with a question about what to do.

Philip Metres – is the author of Shrapnel Maps, Sand Opera, and The Sound of Listening: Poetry as Refuge and Resistance. He has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim and Lannan Foundations, and received three Arab American Book Awards, the Adrienne Rich Award, and the Hunt Prize. He is a professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org

Nov 06, 2020
Roger Robinson — A Portable Paradise
00:11:49

How do you hold onto hope? And who helped you find it? 

This poem is about holding onto paradise in the midst of an environment that seeks to steal or quash it. Roger Robinson praises his grandmother who told him to “carry it always / on my person, concealed.” His deft language helps us understand that paradise is a quality of life; and, even deeper than that, paradise is your life.

Roger Robinson is a writer and performer who lives between London and Trinidad. His first full poetry collection, The Butterfly Hotel, was shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize, and his latest book is A Portable Paradise. He is a co-founder of both Spoke Lab and the international writing collective Malika’s Kitchen.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Nov 02, 2020
Seán Hewitt — Suibhne is wounded, and confesses
00:13:23

In times of isolation, what stories have you turned to for comfort?  

This poem is an exploration of isolation as seen through the mythical Irish character, Suibhne. Suibhne was cursed and lived a life on the move, a transitory isolation. In the midst of the sadness at all he’s missed, he also sees beauty — and he holds both sadness and appreciation together.

Seán Hewitt was born in 1990 and studied English at the University of Cambridge. He is a fiction reviewer for The Irish Times and a Leverhulme Research Fellow at Trinity College Dublin. His awards include the Northern Writers' Award, the Resurgence Prize, and an Eric Gregory Award. His debut book of poetry is Tongues of Fire.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 30, 2020
Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi — Say My Name
00:14:00

What is the story of your name? 

In this poem, the poet calls on place, ancestors, and history to bear witness to the dignity of their name. They recall how their ancestors “acknowledged my roots grew in two / places” and how their name “is the definition of resilience.” With Black/Indigenous, Pasifika, and West Asian heritage, the poet speaks to those who mispronounce their name: “Say it right or don’t say it at all / for I am Meleika.”

Meleika Gesa-Fatafehi is a Black/Indigenous, Pasifika, and West Asian writer. Her work has been published internationally, including in Radio NZ, Nerdy PoC, Djed Press, The Big Issue, Overland literary journal and Endless Yarning. Meleika is a 2019 Next Chapter recipient from the Wheeler Centre.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 26, 2020
Lucille Clifton — song at midnight
00:12:55

In strength and defiance, Lucille Clifton celebrates her Black body and her survival. When have you said or heard words like this? 

Calling herself “both nonwhite and woman,” Lucille Clifton glories in her shape and fact of her life in these two poems. She invites the reader to witness everything she's lived through, and to celebrate the flourishing life that she has created in spite of everything that has tried to kill her.

Lucille Clifton was the author of several books of poetry including Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems 1988–2000, which won the National Book Award, The Book of Light, and Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980. She served as poet laureate for the state of Maryland from 1979-1985 and was a distinguished professor of humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She died in 2010.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 23, 2020
Chris Abani — The New Religion
00:12:11

How do you speak of — and to — your body? 

This is a poem dedicated to the body. “The body is a nation I have never known,” Chris Abani writes. Throughout the 21 lines of this work, he describes lungs, skin, bone, touch, smells, sweat, armpits and hunger. For all the embodiedness of the poem, there is disembodiedness too: the poem continues to question how to truly be in your own body.

Chris Abani is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter and playwright. Born in Nigeria to an Igbo father and English mother, he has lived in the United States since 2001. He is Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University. His poetry collections include Sanctificum and Hands Washing Water.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 19, 2020
Molly McCully Brown — Transubstantiation
00:12:28

Are there places you've lived or visited that others would disregard? What do you see in them that others might miss?" 

This poem takes place at night, describing a scene from a town on the edge of a city. The poet feels at home in a “nowhere” town, with cattle pacing in the fields, boarded houses, and rowdy filling stations. This is a place that through the eyes of some would be considered a “shit town,” but to the poet it is home.

Molly McCully Brown is the author of The Virginia State Colony For Epileptics and Feebleminded, which was named a The New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2017, and the forthcoming essay collection, Places I’ve Taken My Body. She teaches at Kenyon College, where she is the Kenyon Review Fellow in Poetry.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 16, 2020
Natalie Diaz — Of Course She Looked Back
00:15:18

Is there a character (from history, politics, or literature) whose story you want to tell from a new perspective? 

This poem is told from the point of view of “Lot’s wife,” a biblical character who was turned into salt because she looked back to see the burning of Sodom, her home city. The poet shows us what Lot’s wife sees: towers swaying, guitars popping, dogs weeping and roosters howling. By mixing the modern with the everlasting, Lot’s wife is humanized and justified.

Natalie Diaz is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. She was a 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellow and has written two books of poetry, When My Brother Was an Aztec, and Postcolonial Love Poem. She teaches at the Arizona State University Creative Writing MFA program.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 12, 2020
Natasha Trethewey — Miscegenation
00:10:32

Were you born during a time when laws were different? What impact did those laws have on you? 

In this poem, Natasha Trethewey recalls the story of how her parents crossed state lines to wed because Mississippi forbade interracial marriage at the time. It is written in the form of a ghazal, with birth and belonging, names and death coming together.

Natasha Trethewey served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 2012-2014. She is the author of a memoir, Memorial Drive, and five collections of poetry including Monument and Native Guard, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 09, 2020
James Wright — A Blessing
00:12:11

Is there a moment of beauty you can recall that’s like a blessing for you?

This poem takes place at twilight in a field just off the highway to Rochester, Minnesota, where the poet and a friend encounter two ponies who come “gladly out of the willows / To welcome my friend and me.”  

James Wright was a fellow of the Academy of American Poets and taught at he University of Minnesota, Macalester College, and New York City's Hunter College. He also served in the U.S. Army, and was stationed in Japan during World War II. His book Collected Poems received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. He died on March 25, 1980.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Oct 05, 2020
Gregory Pardlo — Wishing Well
00:15:35

What’s a chance encounter in a city that’s never left you? 

In this poem the speaker is asked a question by a stranger while standing near the water outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. “Pardon me Old School he / says you know is this a wishing well?” He initially brushes off the stranger, but something happens: a shared coin, a well, a wish that is answered as it is made.

Gregory Pardlo won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection Digest. He is poetry editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR) and Director of the MFA program at Rutgers University-Camden. His most recent book is Air Traffic, a memoir in essays.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org

Oct 02, 2020
Ada Limón — Wonder Woman
00:16:07

What stories or myths bring you strength?

This poem tells the story of a person living with invisible chronic pain who finds unexpected fortitude from a girl dressed as a superhero. Their encounter, “at the swell of the muddy Mississippi,” doesn’t have a fantasy ending, but instead finds strength and glory in bodies and myth.

Ada Limón is the author of five books of poetry, including The Carrying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was named one of the best poetry books of the year by The Washington Post. She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency MFA program.

Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org.

Sep 28, 2020
Poetry Unbound — Season 2 Trailer
00:01:30

Poetry Unbound with host Pádraig Ó Tuama is back on Monday, Sept. 28. Featured poets in this season include Lucille Clifton, James Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Christian Wiman, Layli Long Soldier and more. New episodes released every Monday and Friday through the fall. 

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Overcast, or wherever you listen.

Sep 14, 2020
A Poem in Gratitude for Health Care Workers
00:11:49

In Leanne O’Sullivan’s poem “Leaving Early,” the poet writes to her ill husband, entrusting him into the care of a nurse named Fionnuala. As the novel coronavirus sweeps the globe, many of us can’t physically be there for loved ones who are sick. Instead, it is the health care workers — and all involved in the health care system — who are tirelessly present, caring for others in spite of exhaustion and the risk it brings to their own wellbeing.

We offer this episode of Poetry Unbound in profound gratitude toward all who are working in health care right now.

About the Poet:

“Leaving Early” comes from Leanne O’Sullivan’s book A Quarter of an Hour. Thank you to the publisher, Bloodaxe Books, who gave us permission to use Leanne’s poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Apr 03, 2020
Help Shape the Next Season of Poetry Unbound
00:01:22

Poetry Unbound will be back with new episodes this fall. We’re so grateful to those who welcomed the podcast into their lives, and we’d love to hear more about your listening experience. What did you love? What can we improve? And what poetry, poets, or topics would you like to hear host Pádraig Ó Tuama talk about? Take the short survey at onbeing.org/pusurvey.

Mar 23, 2020
A Poem for How Friendship Endures
00:06:37

Emily Dickinson’s poem “1383” honors the friendships that endure across time, circumstance, and even misunderstanding. Akin to fire, the connections in these friendships may be strong enough to burn or hurt us, but Dickinson acknowledges that their light continues to draw us in regardless.

After listening, we invite you to reflect on this question: Think about a friendship that has remained steady for you across the years, even as both of you have changed. Why do you think your relationship has endured?

About the Poet:

Emily Dickinson was a 19th-century American poet from Amherst, Mass. She wrote around 1,800 poems in her life, and her first collection of poetry was published posthumously in 1890.

“1383” comes from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson. Thank you to Harvard University Press, who published the book and gave us permission to use Emily’s poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Mar 20, 2020
A Poem About When We’re Disbelieved
00:10:02

Raymond Antrobus’s poem “Miami Airport” bears witness to the disempowerment that comes when you’re not believed. The voice of the poet is absent, and all we hear is an interrogator seeking to disrupt and displace. This space of suspicion creates anxiety, transporting us to the places and times when someone has questioned the truth of our story.

A question to reflect on after you listen: When have you felt disempowered by questions about yourself? Did you find your voice again? How?

About the Poet:

Raymond Antrobus is a freelance poet and teacher. He is one of the world’s first recipients of a MA in Spoken Word Education from Goldsmiths, University of London and is the recipient of the Geoffrey Dearmer Award by the Poetry Society (judged by Ocean Vuong). He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Complete Works iii, and Jerwood Compton Poetry.

Miami Airport” comes from Raymond Antrobus’s book The Perseverance. Thank you to Penned in the Margins, who published the book and gave us permission to use Raymond’s poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Mar 16, 2020
A Poem About the Beauty of Home
00:08:27

Patrick Kavanagh’s poem “The One” is about seeing beauty in the ordinary places of home. One of Ireland’s most famous poets, Kavanagh grew up in rural County Monaghan and moved to Dublin as a young man. This poem revisits the boglands of his home, which he once hated but came to love. 

A question to reflect on after you listen: Think about where you’re from. How has your understanding of it changed over time?

About the Poet:

Patrick Kavanagh was a prominent Irish poet and writer who died in 1967. His books include the memoir, The Green Fool, the novel Tarry Flynn, and the poetry collections The Great Hunger, The Complete Poems of Patrick Kavanagh, and Collected Poems.

“The One” comes from Patrick Kavanagh’s book Collected Poems, edited by Antoinette Quinn. Thank you to the trustees of the late Katherine B. Kavanagh Estate and to the Jonathan Williams Literary Agency, for letting us use Patrick’s poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Mar 13, 2020
A Poem for Keeping Memory Alive
00:09:17

Ali Cobby Eckermann’s poem “Kulila” insists on remembering as a moral act. Through the poem, the Aboriginal poet mourns the loss of Indigenous cultures in Australia and how they have been damaged and changed by colonization. Cobby Eckermann calls her readers to a place of listening and lament as a way to keep alive the memory of who we are and who we could’ve been.

A question to reflect on after you listen: What in your culture or community needs to be lamented, honored, and told?

About the Poet:

Ali Cobby Eckermann is a Yankunytjatjara Aboriginal poet and the author of seven books, including Ruby Moonlight, the poetry collections Inside My Mother, and a memoir, Too Afraid to Cry. She is the recipient of the Windham-Campbell Prize in Poetry from Yale University.

“Kulila” comes from Ali Cobby Eckermann’s book Inside My Mother. Thank you to Giramondo Publishing, who published the book and gave us permission to use Ali’s poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Mar 09, 2020
A Poem for Letting Yourself Be
00:05:42

Kei Miller’s poem “Book of Genesis” asks us to imagine a God who makes things spring into life specifically for us. Just as the poet of Genesis proclaims, “Let there be,” Miller wonders what freedom and flourishing we’d find in imagining a “Let” pronounced not for the person others say we should be, but for the person we are.

A question to reflect on after you listen: How can you begin to let yourself flourish today, just as you are?

About the Poet:

Kei Miller is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Exeter. His books of poetry include The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, winner of the Forward poetry prize, There Is an Anger That Moves, and A Light Song of Light. His novels include The Last Warner Woman and most recently, Augustown.

“Book of Genesis” comes from Kei Miller’s book There Is an Anger That Moves. Thank you to Carcanet Press Limited, who gave us permission to use Kei’s poem. You can read it on our website, at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Mar 06, 2020
A Poem to See What's Overlooked
00:09:50

Lemn Sissay’s poem “Some Things I Like” celebrates what we might consider discardable — like cold tea, ash trays, and even people. Raising a joyous toast to the forgotten and the forgettable, Sissay recognizes the power we give to what we pay attention to and invites us to look anew at all that has been undervalued. 

A question to reflect on after you listen: What is something you like that others may not value in the same way?

About the Poet:

Lemn Sissay is a poet, playwright, and broadcaster. He contributes regularly to BBC radio and is a BAFTA-nominated, international prize-winning writer. His awards include a Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to literature by the Queen of England, the PEN Pinter Prize, and a Points of Light Award from the prime minister of England. His books of poetry include Listener, Tender Fingers in a Clenched Fist, and Rebel without Applause. His memoir is My Name is Why.

“Some Things I Like” comes from Lemn Sissay’s book Listener. Thank you to Canongate, who published the book and gave us permission to use Lemn’s poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Mar 02, 2020
A Poem for All That Life Brings
00:07:17

Joy Harjo’s poem “Praise the Rain” makes space to appreciate all the nuances of our lives. Echoing Rumi’s poem “The Guest House,” she asks us to be present to this moment — the crazy or the sad, the beginning or the end — to greet it all with the powerful word: “Praise.”

A question to reflect on after you listen: What can you praise today?

About the Poet:

Joy Harjo is the 23rd poet laureate of the United States and a writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She has written nine books of poetry, several plays and children's books, and a memoir, Crazy Brave. She is also a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a founding board member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

“Praise the Rain” comes from Joy Harjo’s book Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings. Thank you to W.W. Norton, who published the book, and to Joy for letting us use her poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Feb 28, 2020
A Poem to Notice Openings and Closings
00:08:55

Ross Gay’s poem “Ode to Buttoning and Unbuttoning My Shirt” uses an everyday task to examine what is made and unmade in small moments. He imagines his fingers opening and closing things, like buttons, the eyes of a dead person, relationships. In doing so, the poem asks us to simply pay attention, today, to what we’re doing with our hands — to understand them as intimate pathways into the stories of our bodies and the stories of our lives.

A question to reflect on after you listen: What have you done with your hands today? What are you opening? What are you closing?

About the Poet:

Ross Gay is a writer and a professor of English at Indiana University Bloomington. His books include the poetry collection Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, winner of the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and a book of essays, The Book of Delights. He is a board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard and a co-founder of The Tenderness Project.

“Ode to Buttoning and Unbuttoning My Shirt” comes from Ross Gay’s book Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude. Thank you to the University of Pittsburgh Press, who published the book, and gave us permission to use Ross’s poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Feb 24, 2020
A Poem for Complicated Stories of Love
00:08:08

Allison Funk’s poem “The Prodigal’s Mother Speaks to God” tells the age-old story of The Prodigal Son through a new voice: the unnamed woman of the parable. This woman is truthful, wise, and loving. She knows the dedications and limitations of love. She seeks to see clearly, even though it’s hard to see clearly. 

A question to reflect on after you listen: When has love been complicated for you?

About the Poet:

Allison Funk is a distinguished professor of English at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Her books include The Knot Garden, The Tumbling Box, and Wonder Rooms. Her forthcoming book is The Visible Woman. Her honors include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the George Kent Prize from Poetry Magazine, and the Celia B. Wagner Award from the Poetry Society of America.

"The Prodigal's Mother Speaks to God" comes from Alison Funk’s book The Knot Garden. Thank you to Sheep Meadow Press, who published the book, and gave us permission to use Alison’s poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Feb 21, 2020
A Poem on the Importance of Names
00:09:09

Jane Mead’s “Substance Abuse Trial” is set in a courtroom where a daughter hears her father’s name mispronounced at his trial. As she watches this, she wishes that the court could see the fullness of her father and his story — to bear witness to him as a human being, defined by much more than his addiction.

A question to reflect on after you listen: When was a time when you were judged based on a mistake you made, rather than the fullness of who you are?

About the Poet:

Jane Mead authored five poetry collections during her life including The Lord and the General Din of the World, The Usable Field, and World of Made and Unmade. Winner of a Griffin Poetry Prize and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist, Jane taught at various institutions throughout her life including Colby College, Washington University, and New England College. She was a long-time poet-in-residence at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. She died on September 8, 2019.

"Substance Abuse Trial" comes from Jane Mead’s book The Lord and the General Din of the World. Thank you to Alice James Books, who published the book, and to The Permissions Company, who let us use Jane’s poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Feb 17, 2020
A Poem for Tenderness in the Face of Violence
00:11:30

Ocean Vuong’s poem “Seventh Circle of Earth” is an homage to the love and intimacy shared by Michael Humphrey and Clayton Capshaw, a gay couple who were murdered in their home in Dallas, Texas. In the midst of recognizing the violence and threat LGBTQI communities face, the poem holds space for tenderness — and honors their love.

A question to reflect on after you listen: What examples have you seen of love and power enacted, even in the face of threat?

About the poet:

Ocean Vuong is an assistant professor in the MFA program for poets and writers at the University of Massachusetts — Amherst. His New York Times bestselling novel is On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, and his poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, was awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize and Whiting Award. In 2019, Vuong was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Grant.

“Seventh Circle of Earth” comes from Ocean Vuong’s book Night Sky with Exit Wounds. Thank you to Copper Canyon Press, who published the book, and to Ocean for letting us use his poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

 

Feb 14, 2020
A Poem for the Space Between Us
00:08:32

Tracy K. Smith’s poem “Song” is filled with observations of a loved person: their habits, the things they do when they think nobody is watching. Love is shown and celebrated in observing the small practices of another.  

A question to reflect on after you listen: What’s something small and quiet you’ve noticed about a loved one?

About the poet:

Tracy K. Smith is a professor of creative writing at Princeton University and the former poet laureate of the United States. Her poetry collections include Life on Mars, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Duende, and The Body’s Prize. Her memoir is Ordinary Light, and she also hosts the podcast, The Slowdown.

“Song” comes from Tracy K. Smith’s book Life on Mars. Thank you to Graywolf Press, who published the book and to The Permissions Company, who let us use Tracy’s poem. Read it on our website at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan

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Feb 10, 2020
A Poem for What Comes with Age
00:08:16

Marie Howe’s poem “My Mother’s Body” is wise about age. In the poem, Marie’s mother is young enough to be Marie’s own daughter, and in this imagination there is wonder, understanding, and even forgiveness. 

A question to reflect on after you listen: Are there things that you have found easier to understand — or even forgive — as you’ve gotten older?

About the poet:

Marie Howe is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. She’s published four collections of poetry: What the Living Do, The Good Thief, The Kingdom of Ordinary Time, and Magdalene. She has taught at Sarah Lawrence College, Dartmouth College, and New York University.

“My Mother’s Body” comes from Marie Howe’s book The Kingdom of Ordinary Time. Thank you to W.W. Norton, who published the book and gave us permission to use Marie’s poem. Read it on onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Feb 07, 2020
A Poem for Ritual and Reset
00:08:34

Faisal Mohyuddin’s poem “Prayer” describes a practice of devotion. It’s a spacious and hospitable poem, filled with references to ritual and the body, and an invitation to share in the warm light of a household lamp. 

A question to reflect on after you listen: What rituals do you use to anchor yourself?

About the poet:

Faisal Mohyuddin is a writer, artist, and educator. He is the author of The Displaced Children of Displaced Children, winner of the 2017 Sexton Prize in Poetry and a 2018 Summer Recommendation of the Poetry Book Society. He teaches English at Highland Park High School in Illinois, serves as an educator adviser to the global not-for-profit Narrative 4, and lives with his family in Chicago.

“Prayer” comes from Faisal Mohyuddin’s book The Displaced Children of Displaced Children. Thank you to Eyewear Publishing, who published the book and gave us permission to use Faisal’s poem. Read it on onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Feb 03, 2020
A Poem About What Grounds You
00:08:19

Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s poem “On Listening to Your Teacher Take Attendance” offers a way to ground yourself during vulnerable moments. The poet gathers strength from being loved, which helps her in times of displacement.

A question to reflect on after you listen: What stories do you hold on to when you're feeling displaced?

About the poet:

Aimee Nezhukumatathil is a professor of English and creative writing in the MFA program at the University of Mississippi. She also serves as the poetry editor for Orion magazine. Her books include Lucky Fish, At the Drive-In Volcano, Miracle Fruit, and Oceanic. Her upcoming book of illustrated essays is World of Wonders. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“On Listening to Your Teacher Take Attendance” comes from Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s book Oceanic. Thank you to Copper Canyon Press, who published the book, and to Aimee for letting us use her poem. Read it on onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Jan 31, 2020
A Poem for What You Learn Alone
00:08:22

Brad Aaron Modlin’s poem “What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade” speaks of learning to grow up by yourself. The poet wonders what life lessons would look like if they could be taught by a teacher; a good teacher, a teacher like Mrs. Nelson.

A question to reflect on after you listen: What life lessons did you have to learn by yourself?

About the poet: Brad Aaron Modlin is the Reynolds Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He holds a PhD from Ohio University and an MFA from Bowling Green State.

“What You Missed That Day You Were Absent from Fourth Grade” comes from Brad Aaron Modlin’s book Everyone at This Party Has Two Names. Thank you to Southeast Missouri State University Press, which published the book and gave us permission to use Brad’s poem. Find the full poem at onbeing.org.

Find the transcript for this episode at onbeing.org.

The original music in this episode was composed by Gautam Srikishan.

Jan 27, 2020
Welcome to Poetry Unbound
00:01:22

Poetry Unbound features an immersive exploration of a single poem, guided by Pádraig Ó Tuama. Short and unhurried; contemplative and energizing. Proudly produced by On Being Studios. Anchor your week with new episodes on Monday and Friday, beginning January 27. 

This season features poetry from a diverse cast of poets: current and former poets laureate Joy Harjo and Tracy K. Smith; T.S. Eliot Prize winner Ocean Vuong; classic poets like Emily Dickinson and Patrick Kavanagh; spoken-word artists like Raymond Antrobus; and more.

About the host: Pádraig Ó Tuama is a poet, theologian, conflict mediator — and the host of our new podcast, Poetry Unbound. His books include a prayer book, Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community, a book of poetry, Sorry for Your Troubles, and a memoir, In the Shelter: Finding a Home in the World

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Dec 23, 2019