PODRE's newest bonus miniseries (yes, our highly-anticipated literary salon) kicks off with guest Kaveh Akbar, all-world poet and author of PILGRIM BELL and the forthcoming novel MARTYR, here to discuss poets who can handle the rock, the enduring cultural significance of The Simpsons, and three poems about fatherhood that will make your heart swell bigger than the rim when Steph Curry's on one of his heaters. It's basketball season. It's poetry season. It's PODRE, from the logo, BAAAAANG!
In case you're a little confused as to what's happening in the special show intro, here you go.
Each of Kaveh Akbar's several magnificent books can & should be purchased at the website of the man himself, here.
Marvelous poet and friend of the pod Hayan Charara's books, including his newest collection, can be found here.
Robert Hayden's famous poem "Those Winter Sundays" is reprinted below with the others from the episode. His incredibly rich body of poetic work is worth owning in this handsome volume.
This gorgeous PODRE Review Issue 1 cover art was made by David Wojciechowski.
And here are the poems we discuss on the episode.
"Ode to an Abandoned House"
by Hayan Charara
Wind and rain, here
are the keys
to the house—
a missing door,
two broken windows.
Birds, for you a room
with a view—the bedroom,
which once held
the moon and stars
out of sight.
Ants and worms,
such sad witnesses,
the grass uncut,
the yard overgrown
are again yours to inherit.
And you, the leaves whirling
across buckled floors,
my father’s voice
May you live forever,
may you bury me.
by Robert Hayden
Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.
I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,
Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?
"Learning to Pray"
by Kaveh Akbar
My father moved patiently
cupping his hands beneath his chin,
kneeling on a janamaz
then pressing his forehead to a circle
of Karbala clay. Occasionally
he’d glance over at my clumsy mirroring,
my too-big Packers t-shirt
and pebble-red shorts,
and smile a little, despite himself.
Bending there with his whole form
marbled in light, he looked like
a photograph of a famous ghost.
I ached to be so beautiful.
I hardly knew anything yet —
not the boiling point of water
or the capital of Iran,
not the five pillars of Islam
or the Verse of the Sword —
I knew only that I wanted
to be like him,
that twilit stripe of father
mesmerizing as the bluewhite Iznik tile
hanging in our kitchen, worshipped
as the long faultless tongue of God.