Episode 6: Erika Meitner
In this special two-part episode, Rachel Zucker speaks with poet Erika Meitner, author of four books, most recently Copia. In part one, Meitner details her circuitous route to becoming a poet, her early influences (especially the work of Mark Doty), and her conversational diction and increasingly straight-forward poetics. She explains that much of her work arises from a commitment to writing accurately and respectfully about the small town in which she lives, and the challenges of writing as an engaged member of her community while being an othered outsider, a poet, a Jew, and the white mother of a black son. Meitner and Zucker discuss documentary poetry, the ethical considerations of writing about real people, alternatives to the pastoral, and "gritpo," a term neither of them really understand. In part two, Meitner and Zucker speak by phone so that Meitner can describe her experience of reporting in verse while in Cleveland during the Republican National Convention. Their conversation explores the difference between poetry and media, the challenges of working on commission and on deadline, and the efficacy of poetry as a tool for social justice.
EXTRA RESOURCES FOR EPISODE SIX
Ryan Spencer Reed, the photographer that Erika worked with on the Cleveland / RNC Project
Links to documentary poets and specific books/projects Erika mentions
Philip Metres’s Sand Opera and a great essay Metres wrote for Poetry Foundation's Poetry and Journalism Symposium presented in conjunction with the Columbia School of Journalism on the question: Can poetry document an historical moment rather than just offer a subjective account of events?
Murial Rukeyser’s Book of the Dead [link to Collected Poems]
Nick Flynn’s The Ticking is the Bomb
Adrian Matejka’s The Big Smoke
Claudia Rankin’s Citizen
Susan B.A. Somers-Willet’s Women of Troy
Natasha Tretheway's Beyond Katrina
Mark Doty's My Alexandria