Poetry Unbound Plus

Poetry Unbound Plus

Poetry Unbound Plus is a four-part series of interviews with poets; particularly poets whose work makes use of biblical literatures and characters. This series was co-convened by The On Being Project’s Social Healing team and Washington National Cathedral’s Center for Prayer and Pilgrimage, and features Pádraig Ó Tuama, host of the Poetry Unbound podcast, in conversation with Mary Karr, David Kinloch, Lorna Goodison and Diane Glancy. These conversations were designed with religious and spiritual leaders, students of theology, and those immersed in poetry in mind, but are offered for all and do not require familiarity with the biblical literatures discussed.

March 7, 2021

Mary Karr

In Conversation

Pádraig Ó Tuama and Mary Karr, an American poet, essayist and memoirist, discuss her poetry sequence “The Less Holy Bible” from the 2018 collection, Tropic of Squalor. This sequence of 20 poems incorporates biblical books as titles and wrestles with religion, prayer, and power. Using religious literature as a starting point, these poems engage with oil fields, gender discrimination, lamentation, and joy, bringing what Karr calls the less holy into a holy conversation about language and devotion.

For more from Mary Karr, listen to her conversation with Krista Tippett, Astonished by the Human Comedy.

April 11, 2021

David Kinloch

In Conversation

Pádraig Ó Tuama and Scottish poet David Kinloch discuss his poetry sequence, “Some Women from In Search of Dustie-Fute (Carcanet, 2017), and how the poems in that sequence amplify unheard voices from biblical narratives. David Kinloch’s religious imagination incorporates biblical retellings, the sex life of King David, and eucharistic liturgy through both lament and celebration of a friend’s life. At times heartbreaking, at times raucous, these poems exhibit a profound interest in the text and texture of biblical stories.

If you are drawn to David Kinloch’s work, listen to Christian Wiman’s conversation with Krista Tippett, How Does One Remember God? for further exploration.

May 2, 2021

Lorna Goodison

In Conversation

Pádraig Ó Tuama and Lorna Goodison — the former poet laureate of Jamaica — discuss poems from her collection Oracabessa (Carcanet 2013) where she considers journeys to biblical landscapes, sees biblical characters on shorelines in Jamaica, and ponders the concept of redemption through ordinary stories and the narratives of women. Lorna’s poetry has the quality of hymnody or prayer, and this conversation will engage Lorna about the musicality of her work as well as the content.

For more from Lorna Goodison, listen to the Poetry Unbound episode featuring her poem, Reporting Back to Queen Isabella

June 6, 2021

Diane Glancy

In Conversation

Pádraig Ó Tuama and Diane Glancy discuss her collection Island of the Innocent: A Consideration of the Book of Job (Turtle Point Press, 2020). This book — in poems, prose-poems, and craft essays — considers a telling of the biblical Book of Job through the lens of Indigenous American narratives. Diane Glancy considers character in this text: the character of God; the character of the accuser; the character of Job’s wife and uses these characters to consider the moral question at the heart of the book of Job: how to speak to God when God seems to have taken everything away.

If you are drawn to Diane Glancy’s work, listen to the Poetry Unbound episode about Natalie Diaz’s poem, Of Course She Looked Back for further exploration.