KUSP's Poetry Show

Juan Felipe Herrera, guest poet laureate


20 - JFHThe Poetry Show for April 20, 2014 had a distinguished guest, current California poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. Now in the second year of the two-year appointment, Herrera keeps a busy schedule traveling around the state, but found time last Friday afternoon to record an interview at the KUSP studio, and to read a few of his poems.

Author of more than 25 published works, Juan Felipe Herrera is also a proponent of and participant in live performance poetry, and has been a member of several music and poetry performance ensembles. He also contributed poetry to the PBS TV drama series American Family.

20 - S. KesslerPoetry Show host Dennis Morton was joined by a past host, Stephen Kessler,  who has known Juan Felipe Herrera for many years.  The three-way conversation covered a wide range of topics informed by Herrera’s life and 40+ years in the California Latino poetry scene. During his time as poet laureate, Herrera has initiated a number of projects designed to bring poetry into the lives of California residents, especially school children.





Christian McEwen and Kathryn Petruccelli, special guests


13 - C McEwenThe Poetry Show welcomed two guests to the studio on April 13, 2014. Christian McEwen is a teacher, essayist, poet, and author of a book titled World Enough and Time: On Creativity and Slowing Down (2011). Its central argument, as indicated by the subtitle, is that we all need to slow down in order to truly experience the world and release our innate creativity.


13 - WETcoverweb1-231x350As the publisher says:

“World Enough and Time focuses on the positive effect of deliberately simple living on creativity.”


Kathryn Petruccelli and Christian McEwen have recently joined forces in a project called “Literary Cadences” (subtitled “a revolution in real-time”), which aims to promote live readings and face-to-face interaction between authors and audiences.

13 - In_wake_home





Christian also has a published poetry collection titled In the Wake of Home (2004). She read a number of selections from the book for the Poetry Show.

More History and Poetry, plus Selected Readings


The "sneer of cold command"?

Three weeks ago on the Poetry Show, host Dennis Morton had a conversation with history geek (and Poetry Show engineer) Carey Casey about some of the ways poetry and history intersect and sometimes connect. This week, that conversation continued with a couple more history-poetry stories. The first story explored the genesis of the well-known 19th-century poem Ozymandias, by Percey Shelley. An unusual combination of historical and personal factors informed and inspired Shelley’s creation.

Beginning the show’s second half, a second story looked at the history behind what is probably both the best-known and least-pondered American poem. Originally titled The Defence of Fort McHenry, we know the poem today as the lyrics to The Star Spangled Banner, by Francis Scott Key.

Tiger Heron cover

Following each of the history-poetry stories, Dennis read selections of recently-published poetry, including:

  • Selections from the issue #43 of Rattle, which has the theme “Love Poems”:
    • Black Tank Top, by Danielle DeTiberus
    • Hooters, by Jaqueline Holton
    • The Space Between, by Jill Jupen
    • Kissing as a Religion, by Susan Doble Kaluza
  • More selections (see also March 18) from Tiger Heron, by Robin Becker
    • Rescue Parable
    • Zenia, for Leslie Lawrence
    • Rescue Riddle
    • Her Lies
    • The Dog I Didn’t Want
    • The Middle Path


George Bilgere, guest poet


30_-_Bilgere_2Poet, educator and Poetry Show recidivist George Bilgere was the March 30, 2014 guest of host Dennis Morton. George was in town for a reading sponsored by Poetry Santa Cruz, and found time for a visit to the Poetry Show.

30 - Imperial cover





George Bilgere’s latest poetry collection is titled Imperial, a title which he explains was taken from the name of the top-of-the-line Duncan yo-yo of the early 1960s – an object of desire for American pre-adolescent boys of that era. As the title implies, many of the poems were inspired by memories of childhood.

30 - Imperial yo-yoFrom the publisher:

“Imperial is a collection of poems, both serious and hilarious, ranging in subject matter from marriage, divorce, popular culture, to the pitfalls, perils, and predicaments of middle-aged, middle-class, mid-American suburban life.”

The most-recent of Bilgere’s previous five poetry collections was The White Museum (2010). In addition to poetry, Bilgere teaches English at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio. Also, inspired (or so he claims) by the KUSP Poetry Show, George started his own radio poetry show in Cleveland, called Wordplay. The show broadcasts on the university radio station, WJCU (podcast archive here).

Podcasts of previous George Bilgere appearances on the Poetry Show (from the pre-blog archives) can be found on our Guest Poets page.


Michael Wolfe, guest poet-filmmaker-translator-educator



23 - 220px-MBW_on_the_water_(cropped)On the March 23, 2014 Poetry Show broadcast, host Dennis Morton welcomed guest Michael Wolfe, who has had a multifaceted career as publisher, translator, teacher/lecturer, documentary filmmaker – and poet. In addition to a discussion of today’s issues in the Muslim world, Michael shared some of his translations, some of his own poetry, and a bit about his own conversion to and experiences in Islam.

Michael Wolfe is perhaps best known as a documentary filmmaker. His film about the life of Muhammad, titled Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet, was produced by PBS.

Michael Wolfe’s latest translation project is titled: Cut These Words Into My Stone: Ancient Greek Epitaphs. From Michael’s website:

23 - cut these words cover“Over a hundred tiny poems, some dating back to the dawn of Greek writing, collected in five historical sections with spare introductions that offer a context for these delicate, intimate bits of tombstone verse, one to a page with the Greek and the English, each summing up in a handful of words another ancient life. These epitaphs are anything but morbid: they form a vivid mosaic, tile by tile.”

Stories of History and Poetry



On this week’s Poetry Show, host Dennis Morton and history geek (also broadcast engineer) Carey Casey discuss the big pileup at the intersection of poetry and history. The two writing forms are sometimes seen as representing mutually exclusive ways of looking at the world.

Not so, says Carey. They are merely two different ways of telling a story. History has often inspired poetry, and poets are often called on to commemorate historical events. Poets often use historical events as a starting point for an exploration of larger questions, as in The Right Foot of Juan de Oñate, by Martín Espada.


Katrina's sundial



On the other hand, sometimes poetry has an interesting history. One example is the poem Time Is, by Henry van Dyke. The 1901 composition, which has become a standard for memorial services, is also known by the title For Katrina’s Sundial, which is a clue to its unusual story.

For the Poetry Show’s second segment, Dennis takes note of (and reads selections from) five new poetry books published by Pitt Poetry Series:

  • New and Selected Poems, by Barbara Hamby
  • The Old Woman, the Tulip and the Dog, by Alicia Ostriker
  • Tiger Heron, by Robin Becker
  • Bloom in Reverse, by Teresa Leo
  • Keeper, by Kasey Jueds


Rebekah Presson Mosby, special guest


09 - rpmosby-210-Rebekah_pressonOn the March 9, 2014 Poetry Show, host Dennis Morton welcomed special guest Rebekah Presson Mosby, a writer, audio anthologist and one of the preeminent producers of archival recordings of poets reading their work.

Regular Poetry Show listeners will be familiar with several of the anthology CDs produced by Ms. Mosby, beginning with In Their Own Voices: A Century of Recorded Poetry, released by Rhino Records in 1998. That project proved to be a commercial success, which led to…

30-Poetry on record


For this show, we hear a selection of cuts from Poetry on Record, including very early recordings (originally recorded onto wax cylinders!) of Walt Whitman and Alfred Lord Tennyson.

To hear more recordings from Poetry on Record, listen to the podcast of the Poetry Show from February 16, 2014.

Muse Preview and Pledge Drive


02-Muse2014webThis past Sunday’s Poetry Show served two purposes. It was part of the KUSP Pledge Drive week, and also an introduction to the 32nd annual In Celebration of the Muse poetry reading. Host Dennis Morton welcomed a studio full of guests:



This year’s In Celebration of the Muse reading features 21 local women authors, and will be happening this Saturday, March 8, at Cabrillo College (follow the link for more info). Featured readers will be:

  • Debra Spencer,
  • Joan Zimmerman,
  • Laura Davis,
  • Liz Rapis Picco,
  • Robin Lysne,
  • Jo-Ann Birch,
  • Becky Hall,
  • Sarah Rabkin,
  • Helene Simkin Jara,
  • Wilma Marcus Chandler,
  • Rosie King,
  • Ellen Treen,
  • Kate Aver Avraham,
  • Joanie Maro,
  • Patricia Zylius,
  • Adela Najarro,
  • Dina El Dessouky,
  • Barbara Bloom,
  • Magdalena Montagne,
  • Neli Moody
  • Clifford Henderson

Diana Hartog, guest poet


23-Diana HartogHalf-time Santa Cruz resident (the other half in British Columbia) poet Diana Hartog joined host Dennis Morton on the Poetry Show broadcast for February 23, 2014, to read and discuss her work. Diana was last a Poetry Show guest just over four years ago, on February 7, 2010.


23-Ink Monkey cover





Diana Hartog has published four collections of poetry: Ink Monkey (Brick, 2006); Polite to Bees (Coach House, 1992), nominated for the BC Book Prize; Candy from Strangers (1986), winner of the BC Book Prize; and Matinee Light (1983), winner of the Gerald Lampert Award. She has also written a memoir, No Hippies Allowed (1994) and a novel The Photographer’s Sweethearts (1996). Her short fiction has been shortlisted for the Journey Prize.


Poetry on Record, edited by Rebekah Presson Mosby


30-Poetry on recordOn the Poetry Show broadcast of February 16, 2014, host Dennis Morton introduced recordings of nine poems read by their authors, from the CD anthology Poetry on Record: 98 Poets Read Their Work (1888-2006). Following each recording, Dennis read the biographical comments accompanying each poem, written by compiler and editor Rebeka Presson Mosby. These are cuts 1-9 on Disc 4 of the 4-CD collection:

  1. Wonder, by Sharon Olds
  2. The Lost Pilot, by James Tate
  3. Puerto Rican Obituary (excerpt), by Pedro Pietri
  4. Oh-oh, Plutonium, by Anne Waldman
  5. The Fine Printing on the Label of a Bottle of Non-alcohol Beer, and
  6. The Sweat Lodge, by Adrian Louis
  7. Facing It, by Yusef Komunuakaa
  8. Logan Heights and the World, by Juan Felipe Herrera
  9. The Colonel, by Carolyn Fourche