There is a huge amount in common between modern psychoanalytic theory and poetry theory, particularly in the importance of negative capability, and the mutual experience needed between therapist and patient, poet and poem.
In this episode I’m talking with James Barnes, a psychotherapist and writer based in Exeter, UK. I tracked him down online following a research hole I feel into, finding an article that explored the origins of dualism; the pitfalls of our western proclivity to see nature as mechanistic, that our minds are separate from matter and specifically, the dangers those ideas pose to the psyche. This fascinating and important topic coincided with a lot discussions we’ve been having at the RSH, some of which Leanne Ruell and I discussed in the last episode “Why I Make Poetry Comics This Podcast Won’t Tell You.” The crossovers in philosophy, psychology and poetry are a rich resource for creative discovery. This will be the first in an ongoing discussion.
James Barnes is a psychotherapist and writer based in Exeter, UK, who has a background in relational psychoanalysis and philosophy. He has been in the mental health world for almost two decades, working in the UK, US and Mexico, and also experiencing mental health services himself. He recently returned to the UK to help facilitate a paradigm shift in the understanding and treatment of emotional/psychological distress. He has a particular interest in working on the philosophical and conceptual foundations of this shift. More at: https://www.jamesbarnes52.com/.
Bianca Stone sits down and talks with the poet and essayist, Julia Cohen, about her newest chapbook, Good Timing & Gertrude Stein, and the intensity of the unsaid sentences in us.
About the Collection
Out of invisible gauze or membrane, some sentences construct a wall within you. A black plum riding on the tongue. These sentences only seem possible inside your body: an act of evaporation escapes your mouth before ever reaching a recipient.
As solely interior sentences, their possibility exists as a reminder of vast emotional oceans between the thinking-island & the saying-shore.
Julia Cohen is an editor at Essay Press. She’s the author of one collection of lyric essays, I Was Not Born (Noemi Press, 2014), which was recently translated into German and released by Literaturverlag Droschl. She’s also written two books of poetry, Collateral Light (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2014) and Triggermoon Triggermoon (BLP, 2011). Her nonfiction and poetry appear in issues of Juked, Jellyfish Review, Heavy Feather Review, The Rumpus, Entropy, Boston Review, and BOMB. She’s currently working on a new collection of essays, Freak Lip.
Julia Cohen has a BA from Wesleyan University, an MFA from The New School, and a PhD from the University of Denver. She’s an Assistant Professor of English and Literature at Wright College. She teaches creative writing and literature courses. She’s an activist for public higher education.
Her heart is a fainting couch—it will catch you if you fall.
Leanne Ruell (poet, Iterant Editorial Assistant and RSH Grant Writer) talks with Bianca Stone about her new essay on why she writes poetry comics. Sort of.
At first I thought I should make this into two shorter digestible episodes out of this interview…but then I realized that if you’re going to listen to 30 minutes of Leanne and I talking about “containment” of chaos in poetry comics, the inevitability of investigating despair in as an element of transmutation, and the illusional of–and authenticity of–duality, of the self, that reflects in art, and back to the viewer in art…..then I figured you were in for the full 50 minutes.
Take breaks if you need. And please send post your comments, questions, and thoughts.
Bianca Stone & Ben Pease talk with the acclaimed poet, Major Jackson, about his new book The Absurd Man, the complexities of self, the importance of readings and constructing communities in poems.
Major Jackson is the author of five books of poetry, most recently, The Absurd Man (Norton: 2020). His edited volumes include: Best American Poetry 2019, Renga for Obama, and Library of America’s Countee Cullen: Collected Poems. A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, he has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Major Jackson lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. He serves as the Poetry Editor of The Harvard Review.
In this knock-out collection, Major Jackson savors the complexity between perception and reality, the body and desire, accountability and judgment.
Inspired by Albert Camus’s seminal Myth of Sisyphus, Major Jackson’s fifth volume subtly configures the poet as “absurd hero” and plunges headfirst into a search for stable ground in an unstable world. We follow Jackson’s restless, vulnerable speaker as he ponders creation in the face of meaninglessness, chronicles an increasingly technological world and the difficulty of social and political unity, probes a failed marriage, and grieves his lost mother with a stunning, lucid lyricism.;
The arc of a man emerges; he bravely confronts his past, including his betrayals and his mistakes, and questions who he is as a father, as a husband, as a son, and as a poet. With intense musicality and verve, The Absurd Man also faces outward, finding refuge in intellectual and sensuous passions. At once melancholic and jubilant, Jackson considers the journey of humanity, with all its foibles, as a sacred pattern of discovery reconciled by art and the imagination.
Our new series meeting poets living in Vermont right now. Bianca Stone sits down and talks with Ben Aleshire about what he’s been up to and where he’s been. Ben Aleshire, (who is currently quarantining in Burlington), a first generation college student, lived over a decade on streets around the world making a living writing poems for strangers. Back in VT, he’s working on an autofiction novel about his adventures while also remotely get his MFA from NYU.
In this podcast we talk about the life of the artist, academia, capitalism, po-biz and, of course, read poems.
Benjamin Aleshire is a twenty-first century troubadour. He travels the world with a portable Olivetti typewriter, and composes poems for strangers in the streets of New Orleans, Paris, Barcelona, Havana, London, and San Francisco, as well as at festivals, private events, weddings, and conferences. Clients include Bernie Sanders, Jimmy Page, Sir Tom Stoppard, House of Yes, Princeton University, Shakespeare & Co in Paris, the Troubadour London, and the Bellagio Las Vegas. More at poetforhire.org
How do poets and artists fit into to the political and environmental intensity of the moment? In this follow up episode to the Ruth Stone House January Newsletter, Bianca Stone and visual artist, writer, calligrapher, Candace Jensen, discuss the complexities of action through art.
Original January Newsletter “Can Poetry Save Nature?”
“Thank you for your email on the eco crisis and what poetry can and can’t do about it. I agree with your friend about redirecting our collective focus. More to the arts…and activism. Art is a form of activism, but not in a wagging the finger kind of way. We need more individual expression and mobilisation of individuals. It’s corporations and monocrop media-entertainment-psuedo news that have us in a hamster wheel. How can we forge a new way of living with art and without google and the typical modes of consumer living?”
“In the very end, civilizations perish because they listen to their politicians and not to their poets” Jonas Mekas “Movie Journal Aug. 2, 1962”
“I was recently thinking about this topic, and remembered one of my favorite quotes by the great thinker, teacher, poet, Audre Lorde.. ‘poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action. Poetry is the way we help give name to the nameless so it can be thought. The farthest horizons of our hopes and fears are cobbled by our poems, carved from the rock experiences of our daily lives.’ Thank you for all your good work, Ruth Stone House.”
“I loved that you used an excerpt from “Asphodel That Greeny Flower.” Another favorite poem in that form (I was taught that it’s called a “variable foot” but I’m not totally sure if it’s right… anyway, I love the three stepped lines) is Lorine Niedecker’s “Wintergreen Ridge” which details how women helped protect some of the habitat of Door County in Wisconsin.” –Katherine Gibbel
Candace Jensen is a visual artist, writer, calligrapher and practicing Tantric. She has exhibited work in Philadelphia, San Francisco, New York, and Antwerp. Her artwork has been featured in Studio Visit Magazine, as well as the Royal Academy of the Arts biannual KoMASK Masters Printmaking publication. Jensen focuses on building and uplifting art communities and regenerative systems of culture and cultivation through both her artwork and environmental activism. She is a current artist member at Amos Eno Gallery, where she collaborates as an exhibiting artist and curator. Jensen earned her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA, in 2018, and her BFA from Tyler School of Art in 2008, also in Philadelphia. She has completed over 1000 hours of advance study in Tantra, Feminine Form Yoga and Ayurveda, and maintains a personal practice and a student-educator relationship to the teachings. Her most recent solo exhibitions in Philadelphia at the Fleisher Art Memorial in 2019, and at Amos Eno Gallery in Brooklyn, NY in 2020, both featured large bodies of visual art and writing rooted in the tradition of illuminated manuscripts whose content highlights ecoliteracy, deep ecology and empathic writing. The artist lives and works in Southern Vermont.
Analog vs. digital; Vermont vs. Seattle; spirituality and poetry: a rich late-night conversation with the poet Catherine Bresner who has been one of the incredible women pushing the limits of language and image in her work with poetry comics. (Bonus feature of Odette podcast bomb!)
Catherine Bresner is the author of the chapbook The Merriam Webster Series; the artist book Everyday Eros (Mount Analogue 2017); and the empty season, which won the Diode Edition Book Prize in 2017. Her poetry has appeared in The Offing, Heavy Feather Review, Gulf Coast, Poetry Northwest, Passages North, Verse Daily and elsewhere. She was awarded a scholarship from the Juniper Writing Institute and was the artist in residence at the Northwest Film Forum. She has been the coordinating editor of the Seattle Review, the publicity assistant for Wave Books, and currently, she is the managing editor for BOAAT Press. You can find more of her work at www.catherinebresner.com.