Poet and host of the The Slowdown podcast Major Jackson joins us to talk about Razzle Dazzle, his collection of new and selected poems that captures two decades in the life of a poet. Last year Major also released a book his selected prose, A Beat Beyond, his meditations on poetry and its relation to music, to race, to selfhood, to inheritance and community. We place these two career-spanning works side by side, prose and poetry, and explore them together in today’s conversation. We look back across his work, considering how his poetry and his thoughts on poetry have evolved over the years, and what looking back does to moving forward. It’s a conversation that looks at identity, voice, and the mysteries of selfhood, at multiple ways of evoking the ecological and nonhuman within ones work, at fraught questions of race and nation, and at questions of influence, lineage, and reaching across difference.
For the bonus audio archive Major Jackson introduces us to and contributes a reading of John Ashbery’s “More Pleasant Adventures” which joins readings from so many iconic contemporary poets, from Dionne Brand to Layli Long Soldier, Arthur Sze to Rosmarie Waldrop. The bonus audio is only one potential benefit of joining the Between the Covers community as a listener-supporter. Find out about all the possible benefits and rewards at the show’s Patreon page.
Finally here is the Bookshop for today’s episode with many of the books mentioned, from Sonia Sanchez to Evie Shockley, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge to Brenda Hillman. And of course the books by Major himself.