Chris Koza & Malena Handeen: Live!

Chris Koza and Malena Handeen

We’re celebrating the last episode of our first season with a special double feature, recorded live at Java River Cafe in Montevideo, Minnesota. Our guests are Chris Koza and Malena Handeen.

Chris Koza is the frontman of the Americana rock band Rogue Valley. In this interview, he reads a poem by U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith that helped inspire his new side project, Nobody Kid.

Malena Handeen is a painter, songwriter, and organic vegetable farmer based in Western Minnesota. In this episode, she reads a poem by Tyehimba Jess and discusses how the weather affects her creative life.

Later on, members of our audience participate in our first ever live Haiku Hotline.

“The Museum of Obsolescence” by Tracy K. Smith appears in the book Life on Mars, published by Graywolf Press.

“What the Wind, Rain and Thunder Said to Tom” by Tyehimba Jess appears in the book Olio, published by Wave Books.

This episode includes these sounds from freesound.org: “Thunder, thunderstorm, lightening” by YleArkisto and “Rain and Thunder in the Forest” by pulswelle.

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Marla Spivak Reads Rumi

Marla Spivak

Honeybees are in trouble, and entomologist Dr. Marla Spivak is leading the fight to save them. Dr. Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and a professor at the University of Minnesota. She is known for her groundbreaking research on bee behavior and biology. In this episode, Dr. Spivak reads a poem by Rumi and discusses the changes in consciousness that are needed in order to rectify our relationship to bees– and the rest of the natural world.

Later on, we check the Haiku Hotline for your poems about bees. Transcriptions of this week’s featured listener poems are available here.

“When Grapes Turn to Wine” by Rumi, translated by Robert Bly, appears in the book If Bees Are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems, published by University of Minnesota Press. A portion of all proceeds from the book are donated to support research at the University of Minnesota Bee Lab.

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Mary Mack Reads Roald Dahl

Mary Mack

Stand-up comic Mary Mack is known for her unique style of oddball folk humor. When she was little, however, she “wanted to grow up to be a serious person.” In this episode, Mack reads a Roald Dahl poem that she performed on her high school speech team, which she considers her first foray into comedy.

Later on, we check the Haiku Hotline for your poems about jokes, curated by Steve Wasserman, host of the Poetry Pharmacy podcast. Transcriptions of this week’s featured listener poems are available here.

“Attention Please! Attention Please!” by Roald Dahl appears in the book Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, published by Puffin Books. Visit marymackcomedy.com for links to her albums and tour dates.

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Nekima Levy-Pounds Reads Maya Angelou

Nekima Levy Pounds

Nekima Levy-Pounds was nine years old when she decided to become a civil rights attorney. Today, Pounds is a decorated attorney, ordained reverend, and candidate for the Mayor of Minneapolis– but her journey has not always been easy. In this episode, Pounds reads “Still I Rise,” by Maya Angelou, and discusses the strength she draws from the resilience of her ancestors.

Later on, we check the Haiku Hotline for your poems about perseverance. Transcriptions of this week’s featured listener poems are available here.

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou appears in the collection And Still I Rise, published by Random House.

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Kao Kalia Yang Reads Mai Der Vang

Kao Kalia Yang

Over the course of two award-winning memoirs, Kao Kalia Yang has charted the physical, political, emotional, and spiritual terrain of the Hmong journey to the United States in the aftermath of America’s Secret War in Laos. In this episode, Yang reads, “To the Placenta of Return,” by Mai Der Vang and discusses the sacrifices mothers made to protect their families during the war.

Later on, we check the Haiku Hotline for your poems about return. Transcriptions of this week’s featured listener poems are available here.

“To the Placenta of Return” by Mai Der Vang appears in the collection Afterland, published by Graywolf Press. Kao Kalia Yang’s books include The Latehomecomer and The Song Poet.

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Rob Wallace Reads Derek Walcott

Derek Walcott

Evolutionary biologist Rob Wallace was alt-CDC before it was a Twitter handle. He blogs at Farming Pathogens and is the author of “Big Farms Make Big Flu: Dispatches on Infectious Disease, Agribusiness, and the Nature of Science,” in which he presents research drawing lines between the economic model of corporate farming and the emergence of new, deadlier strains of influenza. In this episode, Wallace reads a favorite poem by Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott (pictured above) and discusses the importance of questioning narratives that justify the status quo, in science and in life.

Later on, we check the Haiku Hotline for your poems about the sea, curated by the editors of Poets Reading the News. Transcriptions of this week’s featured listener poems are available here.

“The Sea is History,” by Derek Walcott appears in the collection Selected Poems published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

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Gaelynn Lea Reads E. E. Cummings

Gaelynn Lea

NPR Tiny Desk Contest winner Gaelynn Lea makes music that is often described as “haunting” and “heartbreaking.” At her live shows, however, Lea cracks jokes in between songs. “A lot of people, when they meet me, say, ‘Oh, I thought you’d be more depressed,” says Lea. In this episode, Lea reads a favorite poem by E. E. Cummings and discusses the importance of acknowledging the duality of light and darkness in the world.

Later on, we check the Haiku Hotline for your poems about youth. Our guest curator is Lauren K Carlson. Transcriptions of this week’s featured listener poems are available here.

“53” by E. E. Cummings appears in the collection 100 Selected Poems from Grove Press. The music in this interview is from Gaelynn Lea’s album, The Songs We Sing Along the Way.

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