A National Poetry Month discussion with poet Jynne Martin, author of We Mammals in Hospitable Times.
Note: One of the poems Jynne reads has some four-letter words, so if you usually listen around children, you may want to wait until they’re out of earshot.
Celebrating National Poetry Month with Jynne Martin
Some of you will remember Ann’s National Readathon Day discussion with Jynne Martin, Associate Publisher and Director of Publicity at Riverhead Books. We invited her back for National Poetry Month, to discuss her book We Mammals in Hospitable Times.
We Mammals in Hospitable Times grew out of Jynne’s time as 2013 Antarctica Artist-in-Residence. I was very eager to hear about this experience, from the exciting (breathing 800,000 year old air) to the mundane (contraband yogurt). We also discussed how living in Antarctica for six weeks informed her poetry and she read for us “What Breaks First” from her collection.
Next, I tasked Jynne with undoing the poetic damage inflicted by one of my high school English teachers. Being told to analyze a poem–and then being told I was “wrong”–turned me off of poetry. It’s a tale that, according to Jynne, is all too common, and it’s even the subject of her favorite poem about reading poems, Billy Collins’ “Introduction to Poetry.”
Jynne describes poems as “…beautiful ways to dwell in mystery,” and says people need to find the poems that are right for them. She recommends some funny poets (Frank O’Hara, Mary Ruefle, Lydia Davis, and Philip Larkin whose “This Be The Verse” she reads). She also describes the three main styles of poetry (Narrative, Lyric, and Associative). For Narrative poetry she recommends Larry Levis, and reads to us “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” by James Wright.
Jynne was kind enough to put together some Poetry Notes for listeners of Books on the Nightstand, which you can download here. They contain some of her favorite poets and poems, and have me eager to read more poetry!