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Episode #053 Carnegie Hall Rush Seats - Mary Karr

In this episode, Connor and Jack discuss Mary Karr's "Carnegie Hall Rush Seats." In the course of the conversation they also talk about big-R Romanticism, Calvinism, the Netflix program Chef's Table, and the quasi-mystical process behind the crafting of the world's finest classical instruments. Connor sticks up for the midwest, Jack's poetic preferences are laid bare, and a physical copy of the OED is consulted. Read the poem below. More on Mary Karr, here:...


Episode #052 How to Keep it Down / Throw It off / Defer Until Asleep - Justin Phillip Reed

Content Warning: Suicidality Connor and Jack discuss a poem by this year's National Book Award winner for Poetry: Justin Phillip Reed. The poem, "How to Keep it Down / Throw It off / Defer Until Asleep," is from that award-winning collection, Indecency, published by Coffee House Press. We talk about the effects of the poem's shifting POV, the intersection of mental illness and white supremacy, and get to maybe two or three of the poem's nearly infinite layers on layers. Plus, Al Pacino makes...


Episode #051 REBROADCAST: Ersatz Ignatz - Monica Youn (and Close Talking Turns Two!)

It has been two years since Connor and Jack launched Close Talking! After 50 episodes, they decided to commemorate the occasion by looking back on an episode they particularly enjoyed on Monica Youn's "Ersatz Ignatz" To read the poem, go here or below: For more on Youn: To check out the collection Ignatz: Find us on facebook at:...


Episode #050 Ozymandias - Percy Bysshe Shelley

For the 50th episode of Close Talking, Connor and Jack dive into a classic: Ozymandias. They discuss Percy Bysshe Shelley's many accomplishments, the poem's history, and how the poem has been deployed in popular culture. Jack can't help bringing up Roger Federer, and Connor offers a curated tour of poems about urns, sculptures, and other objects. Read the poem below. Poetry Foundation Poem Guide (referenced in the podcast):...


Episode #049 Mercy - Anna Journey

In this special spooky Halloween episode, we talk about Anna Journey's terrifying and haunting poem "Mercy." We consider serial killers and Brett Kavanaugh, squirrel meat and patriarchal violence, and the ghoulish openness of the grotesque. Content Warning: Sexual Violence. Read the poem below. More on Journey: Check out Journey’s collection, Vulgar Remedies, where this poem comes from: Check out her other books here:...


Episode #048 Emplumada - Lorna Dee Cervantes

In this episode, Connor and Jack explore an the poem “Emplumada,” by Lorna Dee Cervantes. They discuss the poem’s ending, its ambiguity and beauty; how the poem might fit into a three-act structure; the poem’s negotiation with an oppressive history; the poem’s tonal distance between quiet and intensity; and, finally, hummingbirds and their possible mating practices? Read the poem below or here: More on Cervantes:...


Episode #047 If They Should Come For Us - Fatimah Asghar

Connor and Jack delve into Fatimah Asghar's incredible poem, "If They Should Come for Us." They discuss the lack of punctuation, the use of the ampersand, the historical connections in the title, brave line breaks, The Dark Knight, the blending of the political and the personal, and much more. This show starts with a short discussion of a listener response to episode 42, Manifesto on Ars Poetica, and a special announcement (see below). The discussion of today's poem starts at 11:25. Special...


Episode #046 From Whereas Statements - Layli Long Soldier

In this larger episode, Connor and Jack explore an excerpt of Layli Long Soldier’s sequence “Whereas Statements,” which responds to the Congressional Resolution of Apology to Native Americans that US President Barack Obama signed on Saturday, December 19, 2009. They discuss how Long Soldier interrogates and writes against the language of the Apology, the effects of her syntactical experimentation, the surprising commonalities of legal and poetic language, and how indigenous writers are often...


Episode #045 Some Of Your Love With Me - Ada Limon

Many poems were shared online in the wake of Aretha Franklin's recent passing. Connor and Jack explore the emotional and poetic depths of this poem by Ada Limon, written ten years ago, which simultaneously celebrates Franklin and her music, shows the immediate impact hearing that music for the first time can have on an unsuspecting young listener, and also contains the contradictions and glories of Franklin herself. In the end, they decide the poem is simply a stunning work of astounding...


Episode #044 Blackberry-Picking - Seamus Heaney

Connor and Jack go on a mid-summer romp in the blackberry patch for a discussion of Seamus Heaney's "Blackberry-Picking." Along the way they discuss the poem's accessibility to a variety of audiences, Heaney's ability to create sonically perfect moments, and the meaning of the word "crepuscular." They also take time to marvel at Heaney's overall mastery of all things poetic and the way he uses all of the tools in his poet's toolbox to make the poem both more complex and more easily...


Episode #043 Pulled Over In Short Hills, NJ 8:00am - Ross Gay

Connor and Jack delve into Ross Gay's powerhouse poem "Pulled Over in Short Hills, NJ 8:00am. Jack breaks down how he arrived at his choice of this poem and the two discuss police violence, the inescapability of race in the United States, the ending of the film Inception, and the Green Book, a travel guide used by black families during the Jim Crow era. Find out more about Ross Gay, here: Find his books, here: Find his poem about Eric...


Episode #042 Manifesto On Ars Poetica - Frank Chipasula

Connor and Jack discuss Frank Chipasula's poem "Manifesto on Ars Poetica." They discuss the poem's historical context regarding Malawi, its contrast with Carolyn Forche's style of witnessing, the juxaposition of light and dark, self-reflexivity, and the tradition of ars poetica. Check out the poem below or at this link: Read more about Chipasula here: Read more about Tracy Dale's With...


Episode #041 Say Grace - Emily Jungmin Yoon

Connor and Jack discuss Emily Jungmin Yoon's poem "Say Grace." They discuss how gender and religion intertwine in the poem, the difficulties immigrant populations face in new oppressive states, and Yoon's particular kind of reclaiming. Check out the poem below or at this link: Read more about Yoon here: Read more about Kelly Oliver's Witnessing here:...


Episode #040 My Brother At 3 A.M. - Natalie Diaz

Connor and Jack discuss Natalie Diaz's poem "My Brother At 3 A.M." They discuss the form of the pantoum and explore how the pantoum's repetitive structure works with a poem about addiction. Check out the poem below or at this link: Read more about Diaz here: Read more about pantoums here: Watch the PBS special on Diaz's...


Episode #039 Harper's Monologue From Angels in America - Tony Kushner

For the second time on Close Talking, Connor and Jack consider an excerpt from a play. In a wide-ranging discussion of Harper's Monologue from Tony Kushner's eight hour masterwork "Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes," they discuss modes of writing, lyricism, echoes within the sprawling play, and how the work draws out, smashes together, and interrogates seemingly disconnected aspects of American history. Angels in America Oral History Long Read:...


Episode #038 Because One Is Always Forgotten - Carolyn Forche

Connor and Jack talk about Carolyn Forche's elegy "Because One Is Always Forgotten" digging into the troubled history of the United States' involvement in South and Central America -- many times being on the wrong side of (and in some cases starting) brutal conflicts. This episode comes out the same week that Oliver North, the man indicted in the Iran-Contra Scandal, was named president of the NRA: proof that this 30+ year old poem's themes of remembrance and resistance are eerily relevant....


Episode #037 Tis A Fearful Thing - Yehuda Halevi

Connor and Jack talk about a poem that was likely written hundreds of years ago (more on this in the podcast) by Jewish poet and philosopher Yehuda Halevi. More recently, it was featured in the Netflix original series, Godless. This episode contains a wide-ranging discussion of poetic translation, religion, and universality in poetry. Find us on facebook at: Find us on twitter at: You can always send us an e-mail with thoughts on this or any...


Episode #036 I Have Got To Stop Loving You So I Have Killed My Black Goat - Ai

Connor and Jack explore the fantastic poem "I Have Got To Stop Loving You So I Have Killed My Black Goat" by Ai. Connor and Jack talk about grotesque and profane images, and how they get us to the profound and sacred, and make a million references in order to talk about how images work, including Call Me By Your Name and Star Wars. Check out the poem below, or at this link: Read more about Ai here:


Episode #035 Waiting for the Twelfth Reimagined [SPECIAL EPISODE]

While preparing for episode 26 of Close Talking on Kaveh Akbar's Waiting for the Twelfth, Jack stumbled onto a musical interpretation of the poem. As a special Poetry Month extra, here is a recording of Jack's sung version of Waiting for the Twelfth. Check out our episode discussing this poem, here: For more on Akbar: To check out his collection Calling a Wolf a Wolf:...


Episode #034 An American Sunrise - Joy Harjo

Connor and Jack discuss Joy Harjo's "An American Sunrise. Along the way Jack recommends a documentary, Connor gives his current hot take on form in poetry, and both think about the origins of blues, jazz, and rock and roll. Check out the poem below, or at this link: Find us on facebook at: Find us on twitter at: You can always send us an e-mail with thoughts on...