S8E1 Charif Shanahan and Bongani Kona in Conversation: Racism, Positionality & A Life in Poetry
08 Jun 2023
Image credit: Charif Shanahan by Matt Eich
Bongani Kona asks poet Charif Shanahan about his latest collection Trace Evidence: poems (Tin House, 2023).
Charif reflects on his family background, the intricacies of mixed-race identity in America, Morocco, the meaning of home, his education as a poet, love, shame and the worth of poetry. He reads ‘Colonialism’ and ‘ “Mulatto” :: “Quadroon” ’ from Trace Evidence.
Bongani Kona is a writer, editor and lecturer in the Department of History at the University of the Western Cape He is a member of the board of PEN South Africa.
Charif Shanahan is the author of two collections of poetry: Trace Evidence: poems (Tin House, 2023) and Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry/SIU Press, 2017), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Nation, The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, PBS NewsHour, and Poetry. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, the Stegner Fellowship Program, and the Fulbright Commission. He is the guest editor of the summer 2023 issues of Poetry Magazine. Charif lives in Chicago, Illinois and is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Northwestern University.
In this episode we are in solidarity with imprisoned Rwandan journalist Dieudonné Niyonsenga, who also goes by the name Hassan Cyuma. We call for his freedom. You can read more about his case here. As a tribute to Dieudonné, Charif reads Lucie Brock-Broido’s poem “The American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act”.
Listen to the episode here: