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 29: Molly Peacock

Episode 29: Molly Peacock

Rachel Zucker speaks with poet, memoirist, essayist, and teacher Molly Peacock about authenticity, performance, fear, a woman’s presentation of an authentic self, confessional poetry, constructing art from the material of life, female crafts, photography, the relationship of constructedness to privilege, teaching, formalism, her friendship with poet Phillis Levin, watching the light change in a room, Mary Delany, Molly’s decision not to have children, giving up perfectionism, psychotherapy, the idea of the sympathetic witness, how to construct a life in which you are there for yourself, how to teach with generosity and enthusiasm while still maintaining energy for one’s own creative life, and how to foster boldness.


Books by Molly Peacock

The Analyst (W.W. Norton, 2017)

Alphabetique: 26 Characteristic Fictions (McClelland and Stewart, 2014)

Paper Garden: Mrs. Delany Begins Her Life’s Work at 72 (Bloomsbury UK, 2012)

The Second Blush (W.W. Norton, 2009)

Cornucopia (W.W. Norton, 2004)

How to Read a Poem…: and Start a Poetry Circle (Diane, 1999)

Paradise, Piece by Piece (Riverhead, 1999)

Original Love (W.W. Norton, 1996)

Take Heart (Vintage, 1989)

Raw Heaven (Random House, 1984)

And Live Apart (University of Missouri Press, 1980)

Other books, writers, artists mentioned in the episode

Sonia Sanchez, Eileen Myles, and Alice Notley reading at AWP Conference and Bookfair, Washington DC, 2017

Emily Dickinson’s “I’m Nobody! Who are you?”

Anne Sexton

Sylvia Plath

Robert Lowell

Isamu Noguchi

John Donne

George Herbert

John Keats

Percy Shelley

John Milton

John Greenleaf Whittier

Philip Schultz

Hugh Seidman

Carol Muske Dukes

Shakespeare’s sonnets

Mary Delany

Robert Frost

Frank MacShane

Richard Howard

John Berryman

John Logan

Poetic Meter & Poetic Form by Paul Fussell (McGraw-Hill, 1979)

Poetry Handbook: A Dictionary of Terms by Babette Deutsch (Harper, 2009)

Phillis Levin

Tom Sleigh

Rachel Hadas

Lisa Ziedner

Mary Robison


Sheila Heti

Nadia Boulanger

Mary Heister Reed

Other relevant links

Confessional Poetry

MacDowell Colony

Ingram Merrill Foundation

Unterberg Poetry Center

Friends Seminary

Molly at the Loft Literary Center

A Brief Guide to New Formalism

“White Swan, Black Swan: Poetry in an Analytical Hour” by Molly Peacock, for HARRIET

Episode 30: Sarah Vap

Episode 30: Sarah Vap

Episode 28: Poems for Mother's Day

Episode 28: Poems for Mother's Day