Welcome to the fourth episode of Re\VERB, a podcast where music, literature and pop culture converge. We talk with poet, editor, and teacher Rebecca Gayle Howell along with her partner, musician Brett Ratliff, about writing into received musical and poetic forms, Appalachia and resistance, moving across time and place, Young MC and an incompetent bandit.
Rebecca Gayle Howell is a 2019 United States Artists Fellow. Her most recent book is American Purgatory, selected by Don Share for Great Britain's 2016 Sexton Prize and named a must-read collection by Poetry London, The Millions, and the Courier-Journal. She is also the author of Render / An Apocalypse, which received wide critical acclaim, most notably by David L. Ulin for the Los Angeles Times who called it "remarkable." Howell's debut was as the translator of Amal al-Jubouri's Hagar Before the Occupation / Hagar After the Occupation, shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award and selected by Library Journal as a best book of 2011. Among her other honors are fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Carson McCullers Center, as well as a Pushcart Prize. Howell is the Poetry Editor for Oxford American and serves as the James Still Writer- in-Residence at Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, Kentucky.
Brett Ratliff's homeplace is Van Lear, Kentucky, the historic coal camp that gave birth to Loretta Lynn. Having been mentored by the masters of the area, Ratliff has toured the region and abroad with groups such as Clack Mountain String Band, Dirk Powell Band, and Rich & the Po’ Folk, and he has played alongside of Woody Pines, Foghorn Stringband, Carolina Chocolate Drops and many others. Ratliff has taught traditional Kentucky repertoire far and wide, including The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington; Swannanoa Gathering at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina; Sore Fingers Week in Oxfordshire, England; Augusta Heritage's Early Country Music Week and Old-Time Week in Elkins, WV; and Cowan Creek Mountain Music School in Letcher County, KY. Also a community organizer, Ratliff is an activist for the connection between the arts, foodways, and economic development. Ratliff has worked toward the wellness of his region with such organizations as Appalshop and Hindman Settlement School, and he has founded festivals, such as the Morehead Old Time Music Festival and the Lexington Old Time Gathering, that continue today. His first solo release was Cold Icy Mountain in 2008 on June Appal Recordings. Gone Boy, out October 2017 on Emperor Records, is his long awaited second solo project.
Your hosts are Third Man authors Ciona Rouse & Kendra DeColo:
Ciona Rouse is a poet and author of Vantablack (Third Man Books, 2017). Rouse is poetry editor of the literary journal Wordpeace and cohost of the Re/Verb podcast from Third Man Books. Her work can be found in Native Magazine, Gabby Journal, Matter: a journal of political poetry and commentary and Talking River. In addition to curating many poetry experiences and workshops in Nashville, she also collaborates with various artists to create multi-disciplinary performances, including the show The Longest Night with saxophonist Jeff Coffin and composer Jason Shelton at Oz Arts, the Blair House Collective with musician and poet Adia Victoria and poet Caroline Randall Williams and Nick Cave: Feat with the visual artist Nick Cave for the Frist Art Museum, which was a performance at the Schermmerhorn Symphony Center in 2018, which was recognized as the year's best poetry performance in the Nashville Scene.
Kendra DeColo's most recent book of poems, My Dinner with Ron Jeremy, is availalbe from Third Man Books (August 2016). Her first book Thieves in the Afterlife(Saturnalia Books, 2014), was selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the 2013 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize and named “Favorite Nashville Poetry Book of 2014” by the Nashville Scene. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, Verse Daily, Third Man Books' Language Lessons Vol. I, and elsewhere. She has received awards and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Millay Colony, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is book editor at Muzzle Magazine and guest teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.
Enjoy previous episodes below.