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 64: John Keene (Translation Series, Ep. 2)

Episode 64: John Keene (Translation Series, Ep. 2)

Episode 2 of Commonplace’s special series on translation

John R. Keene is the author of Annotations and Counternarratives, both published by New Directions, as well as several other works, including the poetry collection Seismosis, with artist Christopher Stackhouse, and a translation of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel Letters from a Seducer. Born in St. Louis, Keene is a graduate of Harvard College and New York University, where he was a New York Times Fellow. He is the recipient of many awards and fellowships—including a MacArthur Genius Award, the Windham-Campbell Prize, and the Whiting Foundation Prize for fiction. He teaches at Rutgers University-Newark. (Bio adapted from New Directions.)

John Keene talks to Commonplace host Rachel Zucker about his experiences—starting as early as middle school—with translation, why he believes translation is so important, and how his work as a poet and fiction writer is informed by his work as a translator. Keene, who primarily translates from Portuguese, French and Spanish, speaks about his article “Translating Poetry, Translating Blackness,” and how the dearth of translations of non-Anglophone black diasporic writers into English compounds problem of the lack of representation in media and literature. Keene also discusses the whiteness of the publishing industry, the unique challenges of translating LGBTQ+  literature across cultures, and more.

Episode 65: Hillary Frank

Episode 65: Hillary Frank

Episode 63: Juliana Spahr

Episode 63: Juliana Spahr