Ampersand: The Poets & Writers Podcast

Hear from the editors of Poets & Writers Magazine as they offer a behind-the-scenes preview of the new issue, talk with contributors and authors featured in the magazine, and discuss the lighter side of writing, publishing, and the literary arts in this decidedly DIY podcast.

Episode Four: Translation, Liu Xia, Li-Young Lee & More

In the fourth episode of Ampersand, editor in chief Kevin Larimer and associate editor Melissa Faliveno preview the November/December 2015 Independent Publishing Issue, featuring small-press champions of literature in translation, including New Directions, Two Lines Press, Open Letter Books, Europa Editions, and Archipeligo Books; a profile of novelist Marilynne Robinson; an installment of Agents & Editors featuring Copper Canyon Press editor in chief Michael Wiegers; Donald Hall on a life in poetry; advice from literary agent Betsy Amster; pro self-publishing tips; new and noteworthy books; and much more.

Poet Liu Xia, whose husband, Nobel Peace Prize–winning poet Liu Xiaobo, is incarcerated as a political prisoner in Jinzhou, Liaoning.

0:01 Ming Di reads the original Chinese and the English translation of Liu Xia's poem "A Grapefruit," from her collection Empty Chairs, forthcoming in November from Graywolf Press and translated by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern.

1:07 Kevin and Melissa talk about the new issue's focus on translation; Kevin's travels in Bulgaria; Jeremiah Chamberlin's interview with Barbara Epler of New Directions, CJ Evans of Two Lines Press, Chad Post of Open Letter Books, Michael Reynolds of Europa Editions, and Jill Schoolman of Archipelago Books; and the great big world beyond contemporary American writing and publishing.

4:31 Michael Szczerban travels to Port Townsend, Washington, to interview Copper Canyon Press editor in chief Michael Wiegers for this issue's installment of Agents & Editors. Wiegers talks about his own experience translating poems, how that experience has influenced his work as an editor, and to what extent a translator must make the original poem his own. "You have to make some impositions along the way that are bringing your language to the original, or the original to your language."

12:40 Ming Di reads the original Chinese and the English translation of Liu Xia's poem "Poison."

15:20 Camille Rankine reads two poems from her debut poetry collection, Incorrect Merciful Impulses, forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in November. "Dear patriot / Dear catastrophe / None of this means what we thought it did // Dear bone fragments / Dear displacement / Dear broken skin / I am in over my head." Rankine's new book is included in Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin.

18:03 Kevin and Melissa look forward to Poets & Writers Live in Portland on October 17, Kevin gives Powell's Books some well-deserved book-buying love, and the cohosts relive the amazing event in Chicago on June 20 by listening to the keynote by Li-Young Lee, who reads a poem he's been trying to write his whole life. "I got ready to write this poem the day I was born, the day I fell in love with my mother."

Donald Hall24:50 Donald Hall reads his poem "My Son, My Executioner," which is included in The Selected Poems of Donald Hall, forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in December. Kevin and Melissa discuss Hall's essay, published in the new issue, in which the former poet laureate discusses a lifetime of writing, including the tender moments when he and his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon, shared their work with each other. Hall reads his poem "Her Garden." 

27:49 Finally, the cohosts discuss plans for the new year, which include the January/February Inspiration Issue as well as a Poets & Writers Live event in Austin on January 9, 2016. The theme? You guessed it: inspiration.


Ampersand: The Poets & Writers Podcast is produced by Poets & Writers, Inc., and edited and mixed by Melissa Faliveno, with assistance from Jonathan Walsh. Music for this episode is provided by Podington Bear, Graham Bole, Maya Solovey, and Yasna Voices, the New York Bulgarian Women's Choir. Comments or suggestions? E-mail