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Poetry Unbound

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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.

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.


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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.




Tiana Clark — My Therapist Wants to Know about My Relationship to Work

Life can feel exhausting sometimes: how do you find rest? Tiana Clark is the author of the poetry collection, I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and Equilibrium (Bull City Press, 2016), selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org. We’re pleased to offer Tiana Clark’s poem, and invite you to sign up here for...


Joshua Bennett — Owed to Your Father’s Gold Chain

Sometimes when your world changes, it seems like everything turns towards you, fresh, new, and curious. Joshua Bennett is the author of The Sobbing School—which was a National Poetry Series selection and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. He is also the author of Being Property Once Myself, Owed, The Study of Human Life, and Spoken Word: A Cultural History, which is forthcoming from Knopf. He has received fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the...


Abigail Chabitnoy — If You’re Going to Look Like a Wolf They Have to Love You More Than They Fear You.

How would you tell your own creation myth? Who — or what — would be in it? Abigail Chabitnoy is the author of How to Dress a Fish (Wesleyan 2019), winner of the 2020 Colorado Book Award for Poetry and shortlisted in the international category of the 2020 Griffin Prize for Poetry. Most recently, she was the recipient of the Witter Bynner Funded Native Poet Residency at Elsewhere Studios in Paonia, CO, and is a mentor for the Institute of American Indian Arts MFA in Creative Writing. She is a...


M. Soledad Caballero — Someday I Will Visit Hawk Mountain

In the face of wonder, we can sometimes lose ourselves. M. Soledad Caballero is Professor of English and chair of the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program at Allegheny College. Her first collection, titled I Was a Bell, won the 2019 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award. Her scholarly work focuses on British Romanticism, travel writing, post-colonial literatures, Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies, and interdisciplinarity. She splits her time between Pittsburgh and Meadville,...


Rafiq Kathwari — Mother Writes to President Eisenhower

Would you write a letter to a world leader? Do you think they’d listen? What would you say? Rafiq Kathwari is the first Kashmiri recipient of the Patrick Kavanagh Award. He obtained an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia University and an MA in Political and Social Science from the New School University. Rafiq divides his time between New York City, Dublin, and Kashmir. Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org. We’re pleased to offer Rafiq Kathwari’s poem, and invite you to sign...


Caroline Bird — Little Children

Children’s demands can be high, and their standards can be exacting. It’s a good thing they’re loveable. Caroline Bird grew up in Leeds, the daughter of noted theater director and producer Jude Kelly. Bird’s first collection of poems, Looking Through Letterboxes (2002), was published when she was just 15. Her other collections of poetry include Trouble Came to the Turnip (2006); Watering Can (2009); The Hat-Stand Union (2013); In These Days of Prohibition (2017), which was shortlisted for...


Marilyn Nelson — The Truceless Wars

What do we achieve in our fighting? How can we turn to hope and our deepest nature? Marilyn Nelson was born in Cleveland, Ohio, the daughter of a school teacher and a U. S. serviceman, a member of the last graduating class of Tuskegee Airmen. She is the author or translator of more than 20 books and chapbooks for adults and children. A professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut, Marilyn was Poet Laureate of Connecticut, 2001– 2006, and founding director of Soul Mountain...


Richard Blanco — Looking for The Gulf Motel

Is something lost once it’s gone? How do we blend sadness with sweet memory? Richard Blanco practiced civil engineering for more than 20 years. He is now an associate professor of creative writing at his alma mater, Florida International University. His books of nonfiction and poetry include Looking for the Gulf Motel and, most recently, How to Love a Country. Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org. We’re pleased to offer Richard Blanco’s poem, and invite you to sign up here for...


Yusef Komunyakaa — Praising Dark Places

Is the light a comfort and the night disturbing? Yusef Komunyakaa explores the life and brilliance of what’s in shadow and darkness. Yusef Komunyakaa was born in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The son of a carpenter, Komunyakaa has said that he was first alerted to the power of language through his grandparents, who were church people: “the sound of the Old Testament informed the cadences of their speech,” Komunyakaa has stated. “It was my first introduction to poetry.” He has taught at numerous...


Hannah Emerson — Keep Yourself at the Beginning of the Beginning

A poem inviting us to discover our brilliance and our nothingness. Both true. Both vital. Hannah Emerson is the author of The Kissing of Kissing. She is also the author of a chapbook, You Are Helping This Great Universe Explode. Emerson is a nonspeaking autistic writer whose work has appeared in BOMB Magazine, the Poetry Society of America, Literary Hub, and the Brooklyn Rail. She lives in Lafayette, New York. Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org. We’re pleased to offer Hannah...


Kyle Carrero Lopez — Ode to the Crop Top

A song of praise to the crop-top from a crop-top-wearing man who encounters comments in public and sings and swings. Kyle Carrero Lopez was born to Cuban parents in northern New Jersey. He is the author of the chapbook MUSCLE MEMORY, winner of the 2020 [PANK] Books Contest. He is also a founding member of LEGACY, a Brooklyn-based production collective by and for Black queer artists. Find the transcript for this show at onbeing.org. We’re pleased to offer Kyle Carrero Lopez’s poem, and...


Divya Victor — First Petition

A seven-year poem: from the start of the process to bring a mother to live in the US to the time she walks through the gate. Divya Victor is the author of Curb (Nightboat Books, winner of PEN America Open Book Award and the Kinglsey Tufts Poetry Award); Kith (Fence Books/ Book*hug); Scheingleichheit: Drei Essays (Merve Verlag); Natural Subjects (Trembling Pillow), Unsub (Insert Blanc), Things To Do With Your Mouth (Les Figues). She is currently an Associate Professor of English at Michigan...


Denise Low — Walking with My Delaware Grandfather

We carry memory in our body: memories of our own selves, but memories of our forebears, too — talking with them as we walk, learning from them as they inquire. Denise Low is the former Kansas Poet Laureate, and an award-winning author of 30 books of prose and poetry. She blogs, reviews, and co-publishes Mammoth Publications, which specializes in Indigenous American authors. Recent poetry books are A Casino Bestiary and Mélange Block, poetry based on geologic structures and mixed-blood...


Rita Dove — Eurydice, Turning

How do you speak with your mother when she’s forgotten who you are? By turning to myth, it seems, and by holding gentleness with bewilderment, love with patience. Rita Dove lets us overhear a phone call, and in this listening, we hear lifetimes unfold. Rita Dove was U.S. Poet Laureate from 1993–1995 and she served as the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2004–2006. In 1987 she received the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her book Thomas and Beulah. She is currently Commonwealth Professor of...


Poetry Unbound — Season 5 Trailer

Poetry Unbound with host Pádraig Ó Tuama is back on Monday, April 11. Featured poets in this season include Rita Dove, Joshua Bennett, Tiana Clark, Yu Xiuhua, and many more. New episodes released every Monday and Friday through June 3. Follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Overcast, or wherever you listen.


BONUS: An Invitation from Pádraig and Krista

While preparing for the next season of Poetry Unbound, host Pádraig Ó Tuama sat down with Krista Tippett for a conversation about the power of poetry to find us at the exact moment we need it. Pádraig and Krista also invite listeners to share their experience of Poetry Unbound through our survey. You can also sign up for the latest updates from Poetry Unbound.


Danez Smith — i’m going back to Minnesota where sadness makes sense

In a poem brimming with love and nostalgia for winter, a poet leaves California to return to their Minnesotan homeplace, a place where winter makes sense, where sadness makes sense, where the isolation that’s at the heart of humanity can be met with a landscape that can contain it. Here, solitude is looked at with wisdom and necessity. A season can deepen the human experience. Joy finds new expressions. Danez Smith is a Black, queer, HIV-positive writer and performer from St. Paul,...


Craig Santos Perez — Rings of Fire

What if the planet were as loved as a child? Taking the story of his daughter’s fever when she was one, Craig Santos Perez reflects on everything he did — and would have done — for his daughter’s health. Her temperature rose and his love and response did, too. The temperature of the world rises, and he wonders who loves the earth enough to respond, and who doesn’t. Craig Santos Peres is an indigenous Chamoru (Chamorro) from the Pacific Island of Guåhan (Guam). He is a poet, scholar, editor,...


Alberto Ríos — December Morning in the Desert

Standing at the edge of a desert, surveying the stars on a December morning, the speaker in this poem observes the everything of everything. He is so small; the universe is so loud and so silent. Thinking about the enormity of all this, he thinks of the smallness of the hearts of birds, wasps, moths, bats, and dragonflies — all flying things around him, suspended in space, like the earth is suspended in space. His own heart, too, echoes the universe’s noise. Alberto Ríos is Arizona’s...


Yehoshua November — 2AM, and the Rabbinical Students Stand in their Bathrobes

Yeshiva students stand around in the middle of the night while firemen find the cause of the alarm. It’s a student — distressed by distressing news at home. The teachers cancel classes for the morning after. A poem can describe one thing, but point to another, and beyond the drama of this 2 a.m. scene is a question about whether the presence of God can dwell among those plagued by sadness, or whether God only dwells there. Yehoshua November is the author of two books of poetry, God's...