Speedway and Swan Episode 30: Lisa Wells

Poet and essayist Lisa Wells joins host Brian Blanchfield for an episode recorded only hours after election results showed Donald Trump would be 45th President of the United States. This episode draws on poetry written in darker times than ours, poems of unrest and witness, poems reversing spells, and new poems by young writers of uncommon poise and talent. Featuring work by Christopher Okigbo, Nelly Sachs, Raúl Zurita, Adrienne Rich, Max Ritvo, Ari Banias, Ishion Hutchinson, D. A. Powell, and Roque Dalton. Plus, a recording of Lucille Clifton’s 1998 reading in Tucson.

With musical selections by Rufus featuring Chaka Khan, Felix Laband, Dolly Parton, The Anomoanon, and more.



Christopher Okigbo | “Come Thunder,” Labyrinths and Path of Thunder. Africa World Press, 2008.

anonymous Sumerian medical ritual chant | “Charm,” from The Healing Hand: Man and Wound in the Ancient World, by Guido Majno. Harvard University Press, 1991.

Max Ritvo | “December 29,” Field, no. 95. Oberlin College, Fall 2016.

Lucille Clifton | “Won’t You Celebrate With Me,” reading, University of Arizona Poetry Center, November 1998. http://voca.arizona.edu

Ishion Hutchinson | “Pierre,” House of Lords and Commons, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2016.

Raúl Zurita | “Fleet 611,” from “Fleets,” The Country of Planks. tr. Daniel Borzutsky. Action Books, 2015.

D. A. Powell | “Missionary Man,” Useless Landscape: A Guide for Boys, Graywolf, 2012.

Ari Banias | “No More Birds,” Anybody, W. W. Norton, 2016.

Adrienne Rich | “Behind the Motel” and “The University Reopens As the Floods Recede,” from Telephone Ringing in the Labyrinth (2006), Collected Poems, 1950-2012. W. W. Norton, 2016.

Roque Dalton | “The Art of Poetry,” Small Hours of the Night, tr. Jonathan Cohen, et al. Curbstone Press, 1996.

SPEEDWAY & SWAN is a fortnightly, one-hour free-format radio program that presents contemporary poetry against a context of variously compatible and offbeat musical selections.  Culling from the exceptional libraries of his partners, the University of Arizona Poetry Center and KXCI 91.3 Tucson Community Radio, creator and host Brian Blanchfield is joined in conversation each episode by a rotating guest co-host who brings to the hour a selection of poetry from his or her personal canon, which, along with the freshest and best from the "new shelves," they read live. 

Most episodes also feature a recorded performance from Voca, the Poetry Center's audio archive of its legendary poetry readings since 1963. SPEEDWAY & SWAN represents a partnership between the Poetry Center, which archives the show in listenable format with an annotated playlist, and KXCI, where the show streams live.   

Since 1983, KXCI 91.3 FM has been committed to connecting Tucson and Southern Arizona to one another and to the world with informative, engaging, and creative community-based radio programming.

Brian Blanchfield is a poet and writer whose two books of poetry, Not Even Then and A Several World, have won him The James Laughlin Award, a Howard Foundation fellowship, and recognition as longlist finalist for the National Book Award. His third book, Proxies: Essays Near Knowing, was the winner of a 2016 Whiting Award in Nonfiction. Contact: speedwayandswan@gmail.com.