Saeed Jones on the Poetic Economy of Language
This Week on The Writers Institute Podcast, From the Archives of the New York State Writers Institute
Books are written in solitude, but writers do some of their finest work with crowds—in public talks, interviews, and events. The best moments from those strange, dramatic interactions often go missing, however: either they’re never recorded, or nobody will ever find the recordings. Fortunately, the New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany has been methodically recording thousands of writers’ events since 1983, when it was founded by the novelist William Kennedy.
In this series, you hear about writers’ words coming to life in different places—in conversation, in TV writers’ rooms, at public readings. When those writers are poets, an especially intense attention to language can do something similarly intense to the places where they read or speak. In this episode, Saeed Jones—author of the new poetry collection Alive at the End of the World—explains how he learned that “my education in poetry as a craft could serve me outside of the context of writing a poem.” Poetic economy of language, he says, informed his work in a newsroom and his presence on social media.
You’ll also hear archival sound from poets Alice Notley, John Ashbery, and Yusef Komunyakaa, thanks to the New York State Writers Institute. And you’ll hear how poetry can echo through an audience, across media, into thought.
On this episode:
Saeed Jones (conversation with Adam Colman). Books: Alive at the End of the World and Prelude to Bruise.
Alice Notley (from the archives). Books: Close to Me & Closer… (The Language of Heaven) and Desamere and Disobedience.
John Ashbery (from the archives). Books: Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror and The Tennis Court Oath.
Yusef Komunyakaa (from the archives). Books: The Emperor of Water Clocks and Taboo.
William Kennedy (conversation with Adam Colman). Books: Changó’s Beads and Two-Tone Shoes and Riding the Yellow Trolley Car.
Find out more about the New York State Writers Institute at www.nyswritersinstitute.org.
Saeed Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Lewisville, Texas. His work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, and GQ, and he has been featured on public radio programs including NPR’s Fresh Air, Pop Culture Happy Hour, It’s Been A Minute with Sam Sanders, and All Things Considered. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his dog, Caesar, and tweets @TheFerocity.