Mikko Harvey Recommends...

When I’m too closed off from my inner life—when I’ve drifted into a mindset of fixating on my to-do lists, my frustrations, my stresses—I have almost no chance of writing a good poem. One of the most surprising and reliable methods of escape from this mindset has been listening to the podcast Heavyweight, which is a show about people confronting difficult or confusing experiences from their pasts—long-dormant family secrets, half-remembered beautiful strangers, miscommunications never clarified, traumas swept under the rug. Despite the emotionally fraught nature of these stories, host Jonathan Goldstein—like a truffle pig sniffing out precious hidden underground truffles—manages to locate improbable pockets of absurdist humor within them. It’s something of a tonal miracle that he does this without ever minimizing or sidestepping the heaviness of the issues being discussed.

Through its inimitable humor, as well as its deft narrative pacing and oddly engrossing amateur detective work, Heavyweight has a special way of relaxing my defensive mind. Then, once I’m sufficiently vulnerable, it smacks me in the face with its emotional heft, and I’m destroyed. No audio experience—no other podcast, audiobook, or music—has made me cry in public more often, forcing me to awkwardly hide my face as I attempt to behave like a normal member of society. But it’s good to be destroyed in this way. It shocks me back into my inner life and pushes me to look more closely at the parts I’ve been avoiding. Anything that does this is a friend of poetry, in my opinion, if not an outright blood relative.
—Mikko Harvey, author of Let the World Have You (House of Anansi Press, 2022)  

Photo credit: Grace Sachi Troxell