In this episode, poet Solmaz Sharif, author of LOOK, and Editor at Large Andrew Grace discuss poetry’s responsibility to be politically engaged. Sharif insists, in response to the argument that “art will improve under Trump,” that freedom is the only force that will make art better, and explains how form can be used as a means of opposing American imperialism.
Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Solmaz Sharif holds degrees from UC Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and New York University. Her work has appeared in New Republic, Poetry, Kenyon Review, jubilat, Gulf Coast, Boston Review, Witness, and others. The former managing director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Sharif’s work has been recognized with a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, scholarships from NYU and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, a winter fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, an NEA fellowship, and a Stegner Fellowship. She has most recently been selected to receive a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award as well as a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship. Sharif is currently a Jones Lecturer at Stanford University. Her first poetry collection, LOOK, was published by Graywolf Press in 2016.
Andrew Grace’s books of poetry include A Belonging Field (Salt Publishing, 2001), Shadeland (Ohio State University Press, 2008) and Sancta (Ahsahta Press, 2012). His poems have appeared in Poetry, Boston Review, Iowa Review, TriQuarterly and Prairie Schooner. He has been a Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford and the winner of an Academy of American Poets prize.