Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Andrew Weatherhead. His latest book, $50,000, is available from Publishing Genius.

 

Weatherhead is a writer and artist from Chicago, Illinois. His other books include the poetry collections TODD and Cats and Dogs — and a chapbook, The Kids I Teach, with Mallory Whitten. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Natalie Diaz. Her new poetry collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, is available from Graywolf Press. It is the official June pick of The Nervous Breakdown Book Club

 

Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2012. She is 2018 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, a Lannan Literary Fellow and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. She was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, a Hodder Fellowship, and a PEN/Civitella Ranieri Foundation Residency, as well as being awarded a US Artists Ford Fellowship. Diaz teaches at the Arizona State University Creative Writing MFA program.

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Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Megan Fernandes. Her new poetry collection, Good Boys, is available from Tin House Books. It was a finalist for the Kundiman Book Prize and the Saturnalia Book Prize.

 

Fernandes is a writer living in New York City. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in The New YorkerTin House, Ploughshares, Denver Quarterly, Chicago Review, Boston Review, Rattle, Pank, The Common, Guernica, the Academy of American Poets, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among others. She is also the author of The Kingdom and After (Tightrope Books 2015).

An Assistant Professor of English at Lafayette College, Fernandes teaches courses on poetry, creative nonfiction, and critical theory. She holds a PhD in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MFA in poetry from Boston University.

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Rod McKuen is the Odd Man Out in the history of American pop culture. Music encyclopedias almost never included him even though he released albums for over 40 years. Surveys of contemporary literature overlooked him despite (or perhaps because of) his enormous sales. Rod’s work as a musician and poet didn’t lend themselves to easy categorization. Over the decades, he was associated with the San Francisco beat poet scene, the Twist dance craze of the early ’60, the folk revival, the Great American Songbook school of pop, the early days of New Age environmental recordings and 20thCentury classical music.  Yet none of these genres or movements claim him as even an adjunct member. He remains sui generis by his own choice or otherwise.

His fans didn’t care. Try to see him as they saw him at the height of his fame: a rumpled, slightly stooped 30-ish man with lemon frosting-colored hair ambling into the spotlight to the sound of orchestral fanfare. Inevitably, he is dressed in a sweater, jeans (or chinos) and high-topped sneakers – no amount of success could change his outfit. There’s a laid-back cowboy charm about him, as well as the romantic melancholy of a French cabaret singer. He laughs bashfully, gives wistful sideways glances, rises from quiet murmurs to emotional crescendos. Now close your eyes and hear his voice – hoarse, pitted, compelling in its imperfection. It adds to his pathos and his sexiness.

Now playing on Otherppla conversation with Milo Martin. He is the author of the poetry collections Poems for the Utopian Nihilist (Echo Park Press) and the forthcoming sublemon/sublime. He is also collaborating on an upcoming art book with Gigi Spratley and Jack Waltrip.

A poet by trade, Martin has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe. He has been invited to perform at international literature and poetry festivals in France, Italy, Germany and Croatia as well as numerous venues in Estonia, Switzerland, Holland, Liechtenstein and Serbia. His works have been translated into four languages. Educated at San Francisco State University and the University of Southern California, he currently resides in Los Angeles. He contends that birds and insects are manifest angels.

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Elizabeth Cantwell is the guest. Her new poetry collection, All the Emergency-Type Structures, is available from Inlandia Institute.

 

Cantwell lives in Claremont, CA, where she teaches Humanities at The Webb Schools. She has a B.A. from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. Her poetry has appeared in a variety of journals, including DIAGRAM, The Cincinnati Review, The Los Angeles Review, Hobart, and The Missouri Review.

Her first book of poems, Nights I Let The Tiger Get You (Black Lawrence Press, 2014), was a finalist for the 2012 Hudson Prize; she is also the author of a chapbook, Premonitions (Grey Book Press, 2014).

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Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Dora Malech. Her most recent poetry collection, Stet, is available from Princeton University Press.

 

Malech’s other collections include Say So (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011), and Shore Ordered Ocean (Waywiser Press, 2009). Her fourth collection, Flourish, will be published by Carnegie Mellon University Press in 2020.

Malech has been the recipient of an Amy Clampitt Residency Award from the Amy Clampitt Fund, a Mary Sawyers Baker Prize from the Baker Artist Awards, a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and a Writing Residency Fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and she has served as Distinguished Poet-in-Residence at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is a co-founder and former director of the arts engagement organization the Iowa Youth Writing Projects, and she is currently an assistant professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

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Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Joseph Grantham. His debut poetry collection, Tom Sawyer, is available from Civil Coping Mechanisms.

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Now playing on Otherppl, a conversation with Shauna Barbosa. Her poetry collection Cape Verdean Blues is available from the University of Pittsburgh Press.

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Anna was a good wife, mostly.

It was mid-afternoon, and the train she rode first wrenched then eased around a bend in the track before it pulled into Bahnhof Dietlikon at thirty-four past the hour, as ever.  Cliché though it may be, the fact is absolute: Swiss trains run on time.  The S8 originated in Pfäffikon, a village thirty kilometers south.  From Pfäffikon, its route sliced upward past the Oberland, through Horgen on the Zürichsee’s south bank, through Thalwil, Kilchberg.  Tiny towns in which tiny lives were led.  From Pfäffikon, the train made thirteen stops before it reached Dietlikon, the tiny town in which Anna’s tiny life was led.  Thus the ordinary fact of a train schedule modulated Anna’s daily plans.  Dietlikon’s bus didn’t run into the city. Taxicabs were expensive and impractical.  And while the Benz family owned a car, Anna didn’t have a license.

Tell us about your new collection, Condition of Fire.

It’s a collection of poems inspired by the stories in Ovid’s Metamorphoses interspersed with poems about a post-apocalyptic world where change is the only hope for survival. I wrote almost all the poems while on the Aeolian Isles, thanks to the Edwin Morgan Travel Bursary. The islands are a volcanic archipelago said to be the home of the god of the winds, and you can see volcanoes erupting there. The soil is rich and all around you there are plants growing, bugs crawling, fish swimming, birds swooping – it was just the right place to go to think about what change is, and what being is.


You mention melopoesie on your website – what is that?

Melopoesie is music and poetry together, but the idea is that rather than being poetry stuck on top of music or vice versa, the two are generated in a collaborative way so that they form something new in which the poetry and music are in conversation with one another or intrinsically bound.


You’ve collaborated with artists and musicians/bands – why?

It started with looking for more provocative ways to perform or to present poetry to an audience rather than standing in front of them with a piece of paper in my hand reading out words. That can be a wonderful way to perform and a good poem read well by a talented poet can keep any audience’s attention, but poetry can be a difficult thing to take in when you’re hearing it for the first time in a room full of folks. Sometimes having something with it – film, music, pictures, et cetera, can really help people to focus and to understand what you’re on about.

Also I’ve met a lot of people who say they have trouble understanding poetry. I think a lot of people got frightened off of poetry in school, or are under the mistaken impression that it’s beyond them. Or some people think all poetry should be instantly accessible and easy – I don’t think that this was necessarily the case in the past, and is perhaps a sad reflection on our current approach to the unknown. My poetry over the years has been described as ‘obscure’, ‘impressionistic’, ‘imagistic’, ‘abstract’, and whether or not I agree it’s often been met with frustration. So I try to encourage people to let go of their fears and be willing to engage with the poem – to use their imaginations and intellects to inhabit the metaphorical spaces rather than to feel left out. Further to this, I’ve often found that the process of collaboration both helps to clarify my own understanding (and often actual wordings and line breaks) of the poems, and also provides another way in for people who find the poem on its own elusive.


You’ve been in Britain for 10 years – has your poetry changed?

I think so, though it’s hard to say how much of that has to do with the place I’m in and how much has to do with getting older. For a number of years I tried to write a poem a day, which helped me work through some problems I was having with getting my ideas out the way I wanted and getting my lines to match up with the rhythms in my head. How much Britain has influenced me, and how my work might have been different had I stayed in America, is hard to quantify. My sense of what I’m trying to convey and the means by which to do that seems clearer, and I wonder if being outside of the place where one grew up helps one get perspective on one’s self and one’s origins in a useful way.

I was at a lecture once where the claim was made that American poetry tends to separate ‘nature’ and ‘the city’ whereas the two are more often interlinked in British poetry. I’m not sure whether this is true, but I suppose my own collection contains a mixture of these two notions.


What is the best and worst thing about Scotland, where you live?

The best thing is my partner and his family – he’s Scottish! Scotland is a magnificent country, rich with natural and hewn beauty, and its people are warm, funny and wise. The worst thing about it for me is the weather, the lack of sunshine and seasons. Where I grew up we had long, hot summers, very distinct springs and autumns and cold, snowy winters. I do love the long summer days in Edinburgh but I miss the sun the rest of the year.


Do you get along with other poets?

Yes! I wish I knew more. I like them.


What else inspires your poetry apart from other people’s poetry?

People I collaborate with and their work, other art forms and strange, frightening, gorgeous moments that happen every day that feel like poems.

Also dreams.


What are you working on now?

Two collections – one about war (and peace) and one about nature and identity.


Is there anything you don’t enjoy writing about or avoid writing about?

I try to avoid writing about stuff that is so personal it isn’t relevant to other people. The personal can be universal but it has to be handled very deftly to be so.


What else do you do apart from poetry?

I’m the Literary Officer at the Traverse Theatre, Scotland’s New Writing Theatre www.traverse.co.uk. I make music and watch movies and go for walks with my partner and play with our cat, Tibor.



Confession: I couldn’t think of what questions to ask myself so in the spirit of collaboration I asked for help from James Iremonger, a very talented musician and composer

all those great civilizations
walk back and forth with dazed eyes
someone forgot to give them their wake up call
they missed their flight
the one that intended to save them
guess we have some time
to bullshit musically
here at the end of our conscious stream
where the mutant fish
endorse all progressive hooks

all those bodies with bags
under their third eyes
the custodian is going to clarify all of this
if you learn to relax
the restoration committee is sending out the checks
balance with me on this fragile high wire
when the missile comes humming
i’ll show my learn to duck comic book

salvation will be moving in soon
as soon as it comes up with first and last month’s rent
make way for the big everything
a change swears its coming
if it can clear airport security
show me your wounded paper weight
paint me your discovered wonder

the old road just doesn’t recall where it meant to take us
meander along with me
in very slow tempo
i’ll assume any position you need
just save me a seat
i can fit into
without cringing

the big dance accepts debit cards
the soiree just turned legal age
no broke down dreams live here
they relocated to more affordable housing
i’m just a gypsy
rolling through a mine field
without walking papers
i’m gonna play my heart’s drum
a bit loud
tell the deaf watch dog
to put cotton in his ears