Read By: The 2020 Discovery Poetry Contest Winners


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By 92nd Street Y and 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Asa Drake on her selections:

I read two poems by Ai, "Cuba, 1962" and "Guadalajara Cemetery." I found her book Vice when I started working for the public library. I don't know how this book found its way into Central Florida, but her poems made me feel at home again in the South, where everything outside of me is beautiful and violent, and somehow means more work.

Luther Hughes on his selections:

For the last several years, I have suffered from depression. It kind of hit me out of nowhere. I've attempted suicide and contemplated it more than several times. "Ice Storm" by Robert Hayden is a poem I love because it exemplifies moments in my life where anything, even nature, will make you question not only beauty, but a higher power--God, really. "The Worst Thing" by Sharon Olds, even though this poem is about her divorce, reminds me of this, too, but it also pushes me to say "the worst thing." To face it with my whole heart. "won't you celebrate with me" by Lucille Clifton and "Instructions on Not Giving Up" by Ada Limon remind me to keep pushing. To breathe. To live. 

Ana Portnoy Brimmer on her selections:

In Nicole Cecilia Delgado's collection, Apenas un cántaro, a graffiti credited to "la Pensión Meza, cuarto 14" reads: "Vivir es despedirse." To live is to say goodbye. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about departures, leave-takings, distance, even before the Covid-19 pandemic and (extra)exacerbated political crisis came into view. The poems "In Exodus I Love You More," by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (translated by Fady Joudah), and "Lamento Borincano," by Puerto Rican poet Nicole Cecilia Delgado, seemed like appropriately heart-wrenching reads during moments in which goodbyes (those said, unsaid, feared, postponed, awaited, stolen, uncertain) permeate so much of our linguistic and emotional landscapes, and as we contemplate distance as a political condition. Finally, as a Puerto Rican poet and organizer of profound decolonial conviction myself, it seemed so fitting to read the work of a Palestinian and a Puerto Rican poet, side by side, both places of shared struggles, fighting against colonialism and occupation, and as voices for this meditation and moment. 

En la colección, Apenas un cántaro, de Nicole Cecilia Delgado, un grafiti acreditado a "la Pensión Meza, cuarto 14" lee: "Vivir es despedirse." He pasado mucho tiempo pensando en las despedidas, los adioses, la distancia, incluso antes de que la pandemia del Covid-19 y la crisis política (extra)exacerbada se volvieran realidad. Los poemas "In Exodus I Love You More", por el poeta Palestino Mahmoud Darwish (traducido por Fady Joudah), y "Lamento Borincano", por la poeta Puertorriqueña Nicole Cecilia Delgado, me parecieron lecturas apropiadamente desgarradoras para momentos en los cuales las despedidas (aquellas dichas, no dichas, temidas, pospuestas, esperadas, robadas, inciertas) forman gran parte de nuestras esferas lingüísticas y emocionales, y mientras contemplamos la distancia como condición política. Finalmente, como poeta y organizadora Puertorriqueña de profunda convicción decolonial, me pareció oportuno leer el trabajo de un poeta Palestino y una poeta Puertorriqueña, lado a lado, ambxs siendo lugares de luchas compartidas, batallando contra el colonialismo y la ocupación, y como voces para esta meditación y momento. 

Daniella Toosie-Watson on her selections:

I don’t know how to write love poems. At least when I’ve tried, it’s been wildly challenging. I’m learning how to write intimacy and tenderness, and when I first read this poem by Ilya Kaminsky I thought it was just the perfect way to write those things. I aspire to write and craft love with this kind of subtlety and care.  I chose to read the Carl Phillips poem because it articulates my feelings around sex that I’ve never been able to put to words: “into the self that is partly the animal you’ve always wanted to be, that—depending—fear has prevented or rescued you from becoming.” When I first read that line it was a punch to the gut. You know those poems that you wish you wrote? This is one of those poems for me.

Music: "Shift of Currents" by Blue Dot Sessions // CC BY-NC 2.0

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