Word S9.5 – National Poetry Month ‘Goes. So. Fast.’
National Poetry Month continues and this episode of Word offers readings from some regional poets.
We also talk with two Valley-based novelists, one who penned a young adult crime fiction book and the other who drew inspiration from 1940s Harlem.
Plus, journalist and NPR's All Things Considered co-host Marie Louise Kelly joins us to discuss her new memoir about balancing family and work.
The 40th-annual Tucson Poetry Festival happens April 22-23 and one of the featured poets is Joni Wallace.
She reads a poem called "Landscape with Wasps" from her new book of elegies “Landscape with Missing River.” The reading is underscored by pianist Renzo Iurino.
According to Wallace's publisher, "The book traces the late life, addiction, and death of the speaker’s father, a Los Alamos scientist, living along the banks the Animas River in rural northern New Mexico. The tone is elegiac, the poems rooted in the particularity of a place. Repeating themes include addiction, loss, the ghosts and voices that haunt, agitate, and sometimes, console us."
Other poets who are scheduled to appear at the free festival include Laura Tohe, Farid Matuk, Sarah Kortemeier and Jesse Begay. Reception in the courtyard of the Cabaret Theater, located at 330 S. Scott Ave. in Tucson, will begin on April 22 at 6 p.m. Poetry readings start at 7 p.m., and a full list of festival events can be found on social media.
B.C. Hix is a member of the Cherokee Nation who moved from Oklahoma to the Valley about a decade ago. His first novel is titled, “My Dad is a Hitman: A Misguided Dream of Wealth and Adventure.” It's aimed at young adult readers.
The book follows, "Luke and his dad, Larry Wimms, who move across the country to start a new life. Larry’s promise of adventure takes a challenging and dangerous detour. Larry decides to take the place of an international hitman, whom he finds dead in their adjoining hotel room. Larry is a social goof who is notorious for inappropriate comments, dad jokes that Luke finds cheesy, and excessive. Known for his history of harebrained ideas and lackluster planning, Larry has difficulty convincing his young teenage son how he can pull off his new career choice," according to a synopsis on his author website.
PW Covington privileges this episode with an unpublished poem, "Bodhisattva Prayer."
The latest collection of his poems is, "malepoet."
Covington's author website describes his writing as, "raw, powerful, and carries the voice of his hard-lived curriculum vitae. His poetry and prose is undeniably of Beat lineage, and his words have the power to carry the full weight of desperate yet inspirational experience. Incarceration, poverty, war, heartbreak, homelessness, isolation, these are the roots of Covington's work, but his voice is neither bitter nor caustic. It is, in his own way, hopeful."
Peppur Chambers is a tireless supporter of the arts and is a maker of them as well. She’s a Valley-based filmmaker, actor, producer and writer who recently released a novel entitled, “Harlem’s Last Dance.”
The book is set in 1945 and is as much about the place as the young woman who shares its name.
According to her author website, "Mom says she named me ‘Peppur’ because she wanted her daughter to be a strong black woman. I think she succeeded, primarily because people made fun of my name a lot and I had to be strong and stick up for myself. It has been a journey to reach this point and I’m thankful for it. It is my mission to continue to create excellent work, and in the meantime, I strive to inspire people with my words. Especially women. Because sometimes we need to hear how great we are a little bit more and a little bit louder."
Chambers and her husband currently reside in the Valley.
Poet Melissa Leto is working on a collection of poems titled, "The Neon Graveyard."
All of the titles are enumerated and she privileges this episode by reading the first in the series, "1."
Leto is a facilitator for Phoenix-based Revisionary Arts, "a nonprofit that facilitates self-care and healing through poetry. In other words, we strive to construct spaces where participants feel empowered to creatively explore their human vulnerabilities," according to founder Rosemarie Dombrowski who also appears on this episode.
Our penultimate guest, Marie Louise Kelly, truly needs no introduction other than to say we are grateful for her appearance on this podcast.
But, in the interest of equal billing for this episode, she discusses her new memoir, "It. Goes. So. Fast: The Year Of No Do-Overs." The theme of the book examines balancing family and work as a journalist.
Kelly famously quit her job at NPR in 2011 to spend more time with her sons and then returned in 2016. After the retirement of Robert Siegel in 2018, she followed him as a co-anchor on the network's flagship afternoon show, "All Things Considered."
We also discuss her famous interview with former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, after which she reluctantly became the news simply for striving to report it.
As previously noted, Rosemarie Dombrowski is the founder of Revisionary Arts. She's also the first and only Phoenix Poet Laureate, as the city has never named another following her tenure.
She wrote a collection of prose poems based on Emily Dickinson’s fascicles, "a hand-bound self-curated book which resembles a modern day zine," according to Dombrowski who shares, "Emily Dickinson’s Advice To Girls In The New Millennium" on this episode. It was written in 2022.
Her literary efforts are tireless as a founding member of rinky dink press and "The Revolution (Relaunch)."
Dombrowski is also an Arizona State University professor, serving in numerous capacities.
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Portions of “Word” have been nominated for Edward R. Murrow and Public Media Journalists Association awards.
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