Speedway & Swan Episode 2: John Melillo

Writer and musician John Melillo and host Brian Blanchfield talk waves, wave machines, drone versus decadence, and “words that tend toward pure sound.” Lots of great work from the new poetry shelves (Donna Stonecipher, Caroline Bergvall, Eric Ekstrand, Tyler Brewington, et. cetera), some polyglot poetics of reclamation, and a featured Voca archive performance by Ofelia Zepeda. Musical selections by The Carter Family, OV Wright, Alvin Lucier, Woody Guthrie, The Persuasions, and Rufus Wainwright. And, the radio premier of our theme song in its full length, “Poetry Man” (orig. by Phoebe Snow), arranged and performed by Sam Christopher, Prabjit Virdee, and Mike Barnett. Genius.

Etel Adnan | from “Sea,” Sea and Fog. Nightboat Books, 2012.

Caroline Bergvall | “Song 1,” Drift. Nightboat Books, 2014.

Eric Ekstrand | “Hedonic Tone Assessment,” Laodecia. Omnidawn, 2015.

Donna Stonecipher | “Model City (14-17),” Model City. Shearsman Books, 2015.

Clark Coolidge | “Station Stratum,” Calmer or Mer. Teahupoo Press (John Melillo), 2005.

Susan Howe | “Articulations of Sound Forms in Time,” Singularities. Wesleyan University Press, 1990.

M. NourbeSe Philip | from “Sal,” from Zong! Wesleyan University Press, 2011.

Tyler Brewington | “In Hawaii I Learned This Proverb,” Boyfriend Mountain. Poor Claudia, 2014.

Lisa Robertson | from “Early Education,” Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip. Coach House Books, 2011.

Brandon Shimoda | from “Yellow Picnic,” Portuguese. Tin House Books, 2013.

Ofelia Zepeda | “Blessings for Water,” Voca recording from March 2015, The University of Arizona Poetry Center.

Algernon Charles Swinburne | from “By the North Sea,” Studies in Song, 1880.

The FCC made me do it: Apologies to Lisa Robertson, for eliminating a word after the word “nurses’” in her poem “Early Education.” And: In both the books by Eric Ekstrand and Tyler Brewington there are other rousing poems we cannot read on the air but recommend.



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. 

Each show also features 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 will archive 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. A poetry editor of Fence, he teaches creative writing at the University of Arizona and runs the downtown Tucson reading series Intermezzo. Contact: speedwayandswan@gmail.com.