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The poems in Carl Boon’s debut collection, PLACES & NAMES, coalesce two kinds of history—the factual and the imagined—to produce a kind of intimacy that is greater than either fact or imagination. It is this sense of intimacy that brings the poems to life. We encounter real places sometimes—places we see on maps and highway signs—but also places that exist only in the imagination. We encounter names that are both recognizable and almost—or barely—remembered at all: Jorge Luis Borges next to an unknown boy from Clarita, Oklahoma, who himself would become a poet someday; a man who wishes he were Rocky Marciano hammering the heavy bag in Northeast Ohio, hungry for more than beans or soup. And suddenly it becomes clear how intimately connected in this collection these places and names are as we range from Saigon to northern Iraq; Athens, Ohio, to Libya; Ankara to Pittsburgh; and a strange, sleepy place called Pomegranate Town where someone’s infant dozes in the back of a car on a seaside highway. The people who inhabit these places seem, in a sense, to become those places, inseparable from their geographies and histories, often unable to escape, bound by memory, nostalgia, and tradition.
In this episode, we speak with Carl Boon and showcase his poems from PLACES & NAMES, which The Nasiona published in 2019. This week marks The Nasiona Magazine’s 2nd anniversary, and Carl was included in our first and second issues. During the month, we’ll showcase some of the original work from those first issues from 2 years ago as a way to celebrate our origins.
For PLACES & NAMES, we included 30 poems Carl had previously published elsewhere, and then he wrote 30 new ones specifically for this collection. I’ve never read a Carl Boon poem I didn’t like, and I’m happy to share some of those with you today. If you like what you hear, you can get a copy of PLACES & NAMES as paperback or eBook on Amazon. You won’t regret it!
“Carl Boon’s vivid and timely poetry is tuned to a rare frequency—one not often seen in American poetry—and plays nuanced, insightful and generous songs. In its engagements, its capacity to capture fleeting landscapes and moments, this collection sneaks up on you and disturbs your equilibrium in the best possible way.”
—ANN TOWNSEND, author of The Coronary Garden
“As the title suggests, PLACES & NAMES aspires to a panoramic authority whereby Carl Boon can visit any life anywhere (especially Southeast Asia, Turkey, and the USA) since the Sixties and find a twist of pathos there. Such ambition, with such insistence on the local and visible (“the boy // on his unruly skateboard, / the wasp in the fig tree”), calls to mind Robert Lowell’s History, or the more recent work of such poets as David Wojahn, Campbell McGrath, and Angela Sorby. The ironic effect of such eclectic specificities is a pervasive rueful sense that human longing and loneliness remain the same everywhere.”
—MARK HALLIDAY, author of Thresherphobe
Ohio-native Carl Boon’s poems have appeared in hundreds of journals, magazines, and anthologies in the US and abroad, including Prairie Schooner, Posit, and The Maine Review, earning him nominations for the Pushcard Prize and the Best of the Net Award. He received his PhD in Twentieth-Century American Literature from Ohio University in 2007, and currently teaches university courses in American culture and literature in Turkey, where he’s been living since 2008. In 2018, he edited Perspectives on the Sublime in American Cultural Studies and in 2020 also edited a volume titled Places at the Table: Food in American Culture and Literature. He is currently preparing his second collection of poems, which will reflect his interest in imaginative biography more fully.
Julián Esteban Torres López (he/him/his/el) is a bilingual, Colombia-born journalist, publisher, podcaster, author, researcher, educator, editor, and culture worker with Afro-Euro-Indigenous roots. He’s a Sr. DEI Consultant at Yardstick Management. Before founding the social justice storytelling organization The Nasiona, he ran several cultural and arts organizations, edited journals and books, was a social justice and public history researcher, wrote a column for Colombia Reports, taught university courses, and managed a history museum. He’s a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee and has written two books on social justice. Torres López holds a bachelor’s in philosophy and in communication and a master’s in justice studies from University of New Hampshire and was a Ph.D. candidate at University of British Columbia Okanagan, where he focused on political science and Latin American studies.
Twitter and Instagram: @je_torres_lopez
Special thanks to our voices for bringing Carl Boon’s poems to life: Aïcha Martine Thiam, Anuja Ghimire, Debra Groves Harman, Jacob Derwin, Jerry Edwards, Jill Bergantz-Carley, Jo Weston, Lannie Stabile, Rachel Laverdiere, and Richard McColl.
AïCHA MARTINE THIAM is a trilingual writer, musician, and artist who goes where the waves take her, and an Assistant Editor at Reckoning Press. She will quote obscure film facts at you, unprovoked. Her collection of poems, “AT SEA” was shortlisted for the 2019 Kingdoms in the Wild Poetry Prize. Some of her fiction and nonfiction can be found on The Rumpus, Medium, Lamplight, Metaphorosis, and Bright Wall/Dark Room, among others.
Jill Bergantz Carley is a multiple Pushcart-nominated poet and artist living in Northern California. Her first collection, ANIMAL VEGETABLE MINERAL, is forthcoming from UnCollected Press in 2020.
The Nasiona Podcast amplifies the voices and experiences of the marginalized, undervalued, overlooked, silenced, and forgotten, as well as gives you a glimpse into Othered worlds. We focus on stories that explore the spectrum of human experiences—stories based on facts, truth-seeking, human concerns, real events, and real people, with a personal touch. From liminal lives to the marginalized, and everything in between, we believe that the subjective can offer its own reality and reveal truths some facts can’t discover. Hosted, edited, and produced by Julián Esteban Torres López.
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