A series of intimate and captivating interviews by Rachel Zucker with poets and artists about quotidian objects, experiences or obsessions, Commonplace conversations explore the recipes, advice, lists, anecdotes, quotes, politics, phobias, spiritual practices, and other non-Literary forms of knowledge that are vital to an artist’s life and work. One feels, when listening to Commonplace, the pleasure of eavesdropping on the kind of unexpected, intriguing connections that only happen when interesting people sit together in a small room and talk about their real concerns and ordinary lives.

Episode 11: Shane McCrae

Episode 11: Shane McCrae

Rachel Zucker speaks with Shane McCrae, professor and author of five books, about his poetic process, what he’s working on, and the current political climate. The two discuss the limitations of the term “confessional poetry,” the difficulties of writing about tragedies in the immediate wake of their occurrences, the impulse to witness humiliation in popular culture, the American anxiety of the long poem post-Eliot, and how one might curate an “overwhelming sadness” through art. Shane McCrae reads “In the Language” from his new book In the Language of My Captor, and “Forgiveness in America” from Forgiveness Forgiveness. An audio excerpt from Shane’s newest book-length poem and two hand-picked playlists are available to Patreon subscribers of Commonplace.


Books by Shane

The Animal Too Big To Kill (Persea, 2015)

Forgiveness Forgiveness (Factory Hollow Press, 2014)

Nonfiction (Black Lawrence Press, 2014)

Blood (Noemi Press, 2013)

In Canaan (Rescue Press, 2011)

Mule (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2010)

Recent Books Recommended by Shane in the Episode

Donika Kelly’s Bestiary (Graywolf, 2016)

Anaïs Duplan’s Take this Stallion (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016)

Carolina Ebeid’s You Ask Me To Talk About The Interior (Noemi Press, 2016)

Sarah Deniz Akant’s Babette (Rescue Press, 2015)

Other Writers and Books Mentioned in the Episode

Richard Wilbur’s Collected Poems, 1943-2004 (Harcourt, 2004)

Sylvia Plath’s Ariel (Restored Edition, Harper, 2005)

Sylvia Plath’s The Colossus (Vintage, 1998)

Helen Dewitt’s The Last Samurai (New Directions, 2016)

Linda Pastan’s PM/AM (W.W. Norton, 1982)

Celestine Frost’s An Inhuman Revival (New Rivers Press, 1977)

T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (Norton Critical Editions)

Music Mentioned


Michael Hirsch

Gloria Coates

Robert Simpson


Joy Division

The Cure

Have a Nice Life

Other Relevant Links

How Poet Shane McCrae Learned to Break the Rules, via PBS

Shane McCrae on “Community,” via the Poetry Society of America

Kate Greenstreet’s Interviews

Episode 12: Steph Burt

Episode 12: Steph Burt

Episode 10: Olena Kalytiak Davis

Episode 10: Olena Kalytiak Davis