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 22: Undocupoets 2 — Javier Zamora, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, and Janine Joseph

Episode 22: Undocupoets 2 — Javier Zamora, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, and Janine Joseph

Rachel Zucker speaks with poets Javier Zamora, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, and Janine Joseph who are working to remove publication obstacles for undocumented or previously undocumented poets and writers. They speak about the work of Undocupoets, the current, constantly shifting state of U.S. immigration, the petition they started, fundraising and other actions of literary activism. They also talk about mixed-status families, “exceptionalism,” and the fear and invisibility experienced by people with insecure immigration status. They talk about writing, the hierarchy of imagery and language, memory loss, the use of “I” in their poems, ways of distancing one’s self from one’s story, whether or not they are writing since the presidential election, and the incredible usefulness of email for organizing.


Publications by the Undocupoets

Driving Without a License by Janine Joseph (Alice James Books, 2016)

Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora (Forthcoming from Copper Canyon this September)

While Marcelo Hernandez Castillo does not yet have a book or chapbook out for purchase, we recommend reading some of his writing online, via The Paris American, PBS, The Acentos Review, Buzzfeed, Construction, and elsewhere.

Other Books, Projects and Writers Mentioned in the Episode

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (Riverhead, 2008)

Nicole Sealey

Poets & Writers

Amazon Literary Partnership

University of Michigan

Academy of American Poets’ Walt Whitman Award

Jose-Antonio Vargas’s film Documented


Favianna Rodriguez

2006-07 U.S. Immigration Reform Protests and Marches

Los Angeles Marches of 2006

Emerald City [TV Series]

Want to know more? Do more?

Here’s some links to get you started, thanks to Marcelo, Javier, Janine and Loma. If you donate to one of these institutions during the month of March and shares your receipt with us, we will send you a book of poetry!

Sibling Rivalry Press/Undocupoets Fellowship

The Queer Detainee Empowerment Project

The Resistance Calendar

QUIP (Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project)

Split This Rock



Ali Forney Center

Black & Pink

Assata’s Daughters

Trans Relief Project

Detention Watch Network

The Dream.us

Episode 23: Morgan Parker

Episode 23: Morgan Parker

Episode 21: Undocupoets Part 1 — Christopher Soto aka Loma

Episode 21: Undocupoets Part 1 — Christopher Soto aka Loma