Welcome to The Beat, Knox County Public Library’s poetry podcast. Today we’ll hear Jenny Sadre-Orafai read three poems from her book Dear Outsiders, which was published in March of this year. The poems are "Occupation Interview," "Tragedy Lesson," and "Souvenirs for Locals."Jenny Sadre-Orafai:
A quiz at school interviews us, tells us who we’ll be when we grow up.
We both get astronaut. And when we go so far out in the water, we’re
sure that one day a real and willing astronaut will land in our arms
and teach us gravity and floating. We catch ourselves with our chins
in the air, the water choppy and lapped against our necks, looking out
for a wilted parachute to land on the crest of our waves. And then we
play the game where the ocean is our dress, and we slip anchors on
our feet while we watch the lifeguards wheel out their wooden stands
where they lord over.
Describe drown. We don’t say it too loud when it happens. It’s not for
the hotel people, people who pay for symmetrical shells. They walk
out so far that they can’t tell which place is theirs on the way back.
We’re sure there’s nothing that could keep them away anyway. Not
the burns. Not even if we told all the jellies to wait outside their do
not disturb doors. We know them by the color of their towels. Orange
is the fanciest resort. Blue is the motel without water views. They line
their balconies with them—flags to countries they’ll never belong to.
The body is rescued and buried because it didn’t swim at 45 degrees to
shore. There aren’t long talks over dinners. We’re so sorry and that’s
"Souvenirs for Locals"
dirty clothes in a laundry bag the size of a sitting ten-year-old / orange
sunglasses with GUARD on the arms / braided nylon flip flops / keys
to electric cars / keys to houses on mountains / keys to fireproof safes
/ steel credit cards / a stuffed brown horse with a saddle stitched onto
its body / a warped passport with no stamps / a bag of cash / a remote /
two red plastic shovels / a yellow gold chain / an army survival manualAlan May:
You just heard Jenny Sadre-Orafai read her poems "Occupation Interview," "Tragedy Lesson," and "Souvenirs for Locals." She was kind enough to record these poems for us at her home in Atlanta, Georgia. Jenny Sadre-Orafai is a poet and essayist. Her poems have appeared in Puerto del Sol, Cream City Review, Ninth Letter, and The Cortland Review. Her prose has appeared in The Rumpus, Fourteen Hills, and The Los Angeles Review. She co-founded and co-edits Josephine Quarterly and teaches creative writing at Kennesaw State University. She's published four books of poetry.
You can find Dear Outsiders by Jenny Sadre-Orafai in our online catalog. Also look for links in the show notes. Please join us next time for The Beat.