“Poetry is present in pretty much every culture,” says Reed. “It is present across class boundaries.” But, he notes, depending on those boundaries it looks and acts differently. “I think there is a way that certain kinds of poetry are rewarded as literature and therefore are given a kind of visibility that ends up reifying things that the more aristocratic class parties value.”
In this episode, a conversation with poet, essayist and National Book Award Winner Justin Phillip Reed about his recent collection The Malevolent Volume (Coffee House Press, 2020). We spoke with Reed remotely from his home in Pittsburg, PA. His debut poetry collection, Indecency (Coffee House Press, 2018) was awarded the National Book Award for Poetry.
Reed discusses how he came to see poetry as a vocation and the places he sees for poetry in his life and in our world, and the ways in which poetry can function, especially for Black artists, as a counterweight to invisibility. He also locates his own work within the ecosystem of poetic works and influences that have come before and after his own work.
17:45 – In a Daydream of Being the Big House Missus (p. 41)
20:02 – Gothic (p. 20)
Learn more about Reed and his work on his website. You can purchase his work from Coffee House Press or at your local independent bookseller.