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Podcast Episode 7: Matthew Zapruder and the Bagley Wright Lecture Series

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Matthew Zapruder. Photo by B.A. Van Sise.

Today, we air the seventh episode of our new poetry podcast series, From the Catbird Seat, which is available on our website and on iTunes.

Tune in as Rob Casper goes behind the scenes with Matthew Zapruder, editor at large of Wave Books and the former director of the Bagley Wright Lecture Series, about the six Bagley Wright lectures hosted at the Library of Congress between 2013 and 2016. Established by Charlie Wright, publisher of Wave Books, the series provides leading mid-career poets with the opportunity to explore, in-depth, their own thinking on the subject of poetry and poetics, and arranges for the delivery of a series of lectures that result from these investigations.

In this seventh installment of the podcast series, Matthew Zapruder gives some background on the Bagley Wright Lecture Series and discusses some of his favorite moments from three lectures delivered at the Library of Congress: Dorothea Lasky’s “The Beast: How Poetry Makes Us Human,” Timothy Donnelly’s “Meaningfulness and Homesickness,” and Terrance Hayes’ “Ideas of Influence.” Throughout the episode, we’ll pause to hear segments from each of these lectures.

Terrance Hayes gives a lecture as part of the Bagley Wright Lecture Series, Jan. 22, 2015. Photo by Shawn Miller.

In Dorothea Lasky’s lecture, “The Beast: How Poetry Makes Us Human,” the poet explores the wildness in poetry—the animal nature that allows the poem to shred expectation. Timothy Donnelly begins “Meaningfulness and Homesickness” by reading William Rose Benét’s “The Skater of Ghost Lake,” a poem he encountered early in his childhood, and opens the lecture into a broader reflection on poetry’s urge to both make and resist meaning. In Terrance Hayes’ lecture, “Ideas of Influence,” the poet discusses “the liquid network”—a term coined by media theorist Steven Johnson in a popular TED Talk, “Where Good Ideas Come From”—and applies it to a poet’s creative process, and to the confluence of creativity, community, and influence that built the Beat Generation and the Black Arts Movement. At the center of his lecture is the poet Etheridge Knight.

Ultimately, we hope these excerpts lead you to watch or listen to the full lectures, which are available as video webcasts on the Library’s website. Go forth!

To listen and subscribe to From the Catbird Seatvisit our podcast site or find it on iTunes. Next Thursday, June 14, we air the eighth and final episode of From the Catbird Seat‘s first season. Stay tuned!