The latest installment of the terrific podcast series PoemTalk, hosted by Al Filreis, features a discussion of a poem by Anne Waldman. Filreis is joined by Orchid Tierney, Stacy Szymaszek, and Pierre Joris for a lively and illuminating conversation about Waldman’s poem “To the Censorious Ones,” which can be found in her collection In the Room of Never Grieve: New and Selected Poems 1985-2003.
Waldman has long been associated about equally with both the second-generation of the New York School and the Beats, and in some ways represents the fruitful coming together and synergy of those two parallel yet distinct traditions. “To the Censorious Ones” is a furious blast at the late Senator Jesse Helms and at all forces of repression, misogyny, and philistinism. The podcast includes a characteristically electrifying performance of the poem by Waldman herself.
As Filreis notes, the four participants discuss a variety of topics, including:
Waldman’s ongoing work as a cultural activist; belief by her, and others, in the “magical efficacies of language as a political act”; poets’ support for alternative art communities; the relationship between the work of curating and institutionally “making” poetry spaces and the poems that arise from such work; the feminist project of “thrusting into [the censor’s] point of view,” a gesture in equal parts writerly and political; and the importance of reasserting myths of the woman rising from below, coming up, coming back, and opening the box.
You can find the podcast here and more great episodes of the always interesting PoemTalk here (you can also subscribe to the series through the iTunes music store).