What is the role of the poet in 2021, and how has the importance of the way we use language changed over the past extraordinary year? Oakland-based poet and Alta Journal contributor James Cagney sits down with poet Matthew Zapruder and Alta Live to tackle this subject, examine the evolution of his own work, and hopefully reveal the secrets of his immense talent.
About the guest:
Oakland native James Cagney is the author of Black Steel Magnolias in the Hour of Chaos Theory, a 2019 winner of the PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award. Some of his poems have appeared in Poetry Daily, the Maynard, Anvil Tongue Books, the Racket Journal, and the anthologies Colossus: Home and Civil Liberties United. Visit nomadicpress.org for his book and the blog The Dirty Rat for more writing.
About the moderator:
Matthew Zapruder is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Father’s Day, from Copper Canyon Press in fall 2019, as well as Why Poetry, a book of prose. He is the editor at large at Wave Books, where he edits contemporary poetry, prose, and translations. In 2016–17, he held the annually rotating position of editor of the poetry column for the New York Times Magazine. He teaches in the creative writing MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of California.
Check out these links to some of the books and poems Cagney and moderator Matthew Zapruder touched on:
- Read Black Steel Magnolias in the Hour of Chaos Theory, by James Cagney.
- Read “Proof,” by James Cagney.
- Read “Preface to a Photograph —Delano, CA 1976,” by James Cagney.
- Read Father’s Day, by Matthew Zapruder.
- Read “The Making of a Poem,” by Matthew Zapruder.
- Learn more about poet Charles Olson.