Speedway & Swan Episode 5: Ian Ellasante

“Our joint decisions make the possible whole.” –Audre Lorde


Poet, social worker, and community leader Ian Ellasante joins host Brian Blanchfield to present an hour of poetry contemplating resilience and community after violence, corruption and loss. A special focus on writers who do double duty as both poets and political figures or incisive cultural critics. Selections include poems by Lucille Clifton, Gloria Anzaldúa, Sherwin Bitsui, Natalie Diaz, and Audre Lorde and brand new work by Nathaniel Mackey, Joshua Clover, and Alissa Quart, among others. Lynn Emanuel in a voca archival recording from the Poetry Center in 1993.

With music by Les Sins, The Tough Alliance, Brett Dennen, Trentemoller, Richard Thompson, Al Green, and more.

Lucille Clifton | “Grief,” Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems. BOA Editions, 2000.

Nathaniel Mackey | “Stick City Bhajan,” Blue Fasa. New Directions, 2015.

Sherwin Bitsui | “River,” Shapeshift. University of Arizona Press, 2003.

Gloria Anzaldúa | “To Live in the Borderlands Means You,” Borderlands/La Frontera. Aunt Lute Books, 1987.

Alissa Quart | “Lowrider,” Monetized. Miami University Press, 2015.

Joshua Clover | “Apology,” Red Epic. Commune Editions, 2015.

Natalie Diaz | “Cloud Watching,” When My Brother Was an Aztec. Copper Canyon Press, 2012.

Lynn Emanuel | “Stone Soup,” voca archive selection: Reading, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, Tucson, February 6, 1993.

Audre Lorde | “Walking Our Boundaries,” Black Unicorn. Norton, 1978.


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.