Poetry Unbound

An Arts, Books and Society podcast
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Episodes of Poetry Unbound

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 Decem
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
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 ge
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 i
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, translat
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 i
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, s
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 way
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 hi
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
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 b
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 t
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 multiplic
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 te
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 newspape
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,
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
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
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 J
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 slipp
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
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 cleanin
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
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 f
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, treat
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