Read a poem, talk about it, read it again.

Episode 174 National Book Award 2022 - SPECIAL EPISODE


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In this special episode, Connor and Jack discuss the 2022 National Book Awards — the long list, the finalists, and the winner "Punks: New and Selected Poems" by John Keene. They read and explore a marvelous poem from the collection, "Folks Are Right, My Nose Was Wide Open," which also appeared in BOMB Magazine.

Listen to the National Book Awards Award Ceremony, here.

Get Punks here.

Folks Are Right, My Nose Was Wide Open
By: John Keene

Folks are right: my nose is wide open. I left one man and fell for this one, he’s not the one, so what am I to do? I don’t. Instead, I stand in the doorway of the New Age café on Newbury Street waiting for Kevin, because we’re going to talk about poems. All the poems I haven’t written, because I spend my waking hours talking about them, reading the work of others, trying to remake myself as Essex Hemphill or Neruda or Celan. For example, I can’t write poems about this crazy dude I’m seeing, how he writhes in bed like a loose hose when he comes, how he stands for hours in front of the mirror admiring and caressing his muscles, saying nothing but “Looking good,” the yelps he serves up when I enter him. I don’t write poems about how he silences me with certain looks, his lies about being from “Black money,” how he laughs at the serious things I say. How often when I’m with him I feel more alone than the hardest years of high school. Rather, I write down lines towards poems, abstract pronouncements about unhappiness and being scared and unknown and misunderstood and death, which makes me think I’m addressing the problem. Love is a dream where both of us are trying, at the same speed, without quitting. Then Kevin shows up, and I’m not so sure, because before I can get a word in about my plight, before I can pass today’s halfstarts and failures across the table, he starts telling me about last night’s fight with his girlfriend.

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