Poets Cafe Interview with Peggy Dobreer

Since the KPFK archives only last 90 days, host Lois P. Jones asked me to make a permanent home for the show I was on last week.  Here is the first segment, with Peggy Dobeer — I thought she deserved her own page.

Photo by Myra Gerrard

Peggy Dobreer is an educator, poet, public speaker, and artisan who works and teaches in the Extension Program at Loyola Marymount University. She was a leading force in the educational vision of the Center for the Advancement of Nonviolence, from 1997-2004, and co-wrote and edited 64 Ways to Practice Nonviolence: A Curriculum and Resource Guide. Her poetry is published in Cracked Pavement and Plastic Trees, Our Gifts To Future Generations: An Anthology of Environmental Poetry, Everything About You Is Beautiful: Really Big Show Anthology (Winter 2004), WordWright’s Magazine, Tamafhyr Mountain Poetry Irregular Poetry Journal, and The Blue House. She has self-published four chapbooks: Henceforth (1999), Bravo Collection (2002), Face of Sky (2004) and B.L.A.B.B. Be Live at Beyond Baroque (2006).

Interview with Poets Cafe

Above is a 3-minute teaser from the 25-minute interview. To listen to the whole thing, visit the KPFK archive, and click on “Poetry and Culture” at noon (Wed., July 22nd). Mine is the second segment, halfway through, following an enlightening interview with local poet Peggy Debreer.

Since it’s the first time I’ve ever heard myself on the radio I thought I’d “live-blog” the queasiness.  I didn’t feel nervous at all sitting in the sound studio and talking to Lois about poetry, but now that I’m here at my desk helplessly listening to what I said three months ago, I’ve been feeling uneasy.  I can’t even remember what might have come out of my mouth!

Anyway, here’s my commentary:

  • 29:20 – First of all, I completely forgot that I was sick when we recorded this. Hear the rasp in my voice –I’m trying hard not to cough through the whole thing and sometimes failing.
  • 30:10 – So tired of my own poems. I need to write some new ones…
  • 32:10 – That bit about fractals and the mars rover is something that I had no idea I was going to say, and had never really thought of coherently until I heard myself saying it.  But the description of fractals as “getting lost in scale” actually works, which is neat.
  • 34:02 – Are my “mhmm’s” while Lois is talking annoying everyone or just me?  Shut up Tim…
  • 34:30 – Haha, I’m the Big Kahuna!
  • 35:25 – I accidentally lied about the number of submissions we receive at Rattle. It’s 50 subs/day in the busy seasons, around deadlines and new issues, but it drops to 20 when we’re slow.  The interview was recorded during a busy period, so that’s all I was thinking about.  Oops!  I still feel a little guilty about that.  100 poems every day is still a lot, right?
  • 36:30 – I don’t usually read “Playing Our Part,” it was nice that she asked for that.
  • 42:00 – The plug for my friend Erik Campbell’s book Arguments for Stillness was edited out because we couldn’t get on the same page — I thought Lois was referring to an Elizabeth Bishop quote that we’d talked about before, not Erik’s book.  Sorry Erik!
  • 43:30 – I’m sick of complaining about no respect of Rattle.  All those things are true, we are a “rogue journal” and proud of it, but I feel like a whiner going on about it.  It ties in to what I wrote on last Friday, the inanity of the game.  Who gives an f-…
  • 49:50 – “the white blood cell count for society.”  Another thing I never thought of until I said it.  Interviews are fun.
  • 51:10 – Sometimes when I read “The Body” I have to fight the urge to read in a southern accent…is that weird?

Well that was mostly pointless!  I enjoyed the interview, though, and commenting on it reduces the jitters.

Thanks to Lois P. Jones for being a great host, and KPFK for having me.  What did you all think?

A Request for Interview Requests (plus 2 notes)

We’ve have some unfortunate scheduling issues in the last few months, and have had to postpone a few planned interviews, so as soon as this winter’s conversations with Robert Pinsky and Natasha Trethewey come out, we’re tapped. With the way the production schedule works, I really need to arrange interviews with at least two poets this fall — three would be nice, as I like to keep someone in reserve.

Here’s a list of the poets we’ve interviewed so far:

Robert Pinsky * Natasha Trethewey * Marvin Bell * Bob Hicok * Tess Gallagher * Arthur Sze * Marc Kelly Smith * Patricia Smith * Jane Hirshfield * Jack Kornfield * Hayden Carruth * Mark Jarman * Gregory Orr * Denise Duhamel * Alan Shapiro * David St. John * Sam Hamill * Deena Metzgar * Naomi Shihab Nye * Li-Young Lee * Colette Inez * Maxine Kumin * Robert Creeley * Gerald Stern * Lucille Clifton * Charles Simic * Mark Doty * Sharon Olds * Stephen Dobyns * C.K. Williams * Billy Collins * Jack Grapes * Simon Ortiz * Anne Waldman * Edward Hirsch * Diane Wakoski * James Ragan * Luis Rodriguez * Daniel Berrigan * Philip Levine * Dorianne Laux * Virginia Hamilton Adair

Damn, that’s a pretty impressive list… But everyone on there is out, so who would we look up next? Special consideration given to African-American poets for next summer’s issue, and Formalists for Dec. 2009. You are our readership — who would you like to read more about?

Remember that our “conversations” are less formal, more personal than most of the interviews that others publish, so this is a chance to get to know your favorite poets on a more intimate level.


Two of my own poems are featured in Cutthroat’s summer issue, which is available as a free PDF download. Visit the site to check them out — they’re both slender little lyrics, lots of sonic stuff going on; one’s political, the other’s metapoetic.

I haven’t had a chance to read the issue yet (I haven’t had a chance to do anything lately), but I’ve really enjoyed past issues, and I really like the people that run it. We keep getting stuck next to each other at boring book festivals, and Will and Pam are good company.


Bill Knott has further descended into wherever it is he’s going, and lately he’s been posting collages made from rejections slips. It was interesting to see that Rattle made the list (twice), a few years before my tenure began.

I’m not quite sure what Knott’s point is, whether it’s a gesture born of frustration or commiseration — if you’ve been following his blog, you know it could go either way. But regardless of his intent, it’s a great lesson for those new to submitting. Knott is a very successful poet, by any measure save perhaps his own — his books have come from all my favorite small presses, capped by FSG in 2004. And still, look at how these rejections pile up.