Charif Shanahan – Poetry Society of America
Late Night Conversation, hosted by Kristin Maffei
Tonight, Kristin talks to Charif Shanahan, the Programs Director for the Poetry Society of America (PSA). Founded in 1910, the Poetry Society of America is the oldest poetry organization in the United States. With a mission both to support poets and to deepen cultural appreciation for poetry, PSA has been influential in making poetry visible and bringing poets to new audiences. New Yorkers will recognize Poetry In Motion, a hugely successful program launched by PSA that has placed more than 200 poems in the transit systems of over 20 major American cities. Past members have included Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Wallace Stevens, while the current membership includes poets like Stanley Kunitz, John Ashbery, Molly Peacock, and Billy Collins.
In this podcast, Charif talks with Kristin about the Poetry Society, his experience as a poet, how he used to dislike poetry, and the necessity of a culture that celebrates poetry.
I think it’s a miracle that I wasn’t turned off from poems in my early life. Poems were puzzles that had some kind of deeper meaning that they were hiding from me and I needed to go at it with a hammer in order to excavate this hidden meaning. I wasn’t taught – until I encountered a really important, influential high school English teacher who really changed my life – it wasn’t until I encountered him that I was taught to think of a poem as an experience, something that I could enter and be changed by, rather than a puzzle or something to figure out….
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Charif Shanahan is the Programs Director for the Poetry Society of America. A Cave Canem fellow, Charif studied poetry at Princeton University, Dartmouth College, and New York University, where he earned his MFA as a Starlight Foundation Fellow. A recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and a semi-finalist for the “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, his poems and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in The New Republic, A Public Space, Circumference, The Manhattanville Review, and elsewhere. He is also the poetry editor for Psychology Tomorrow Magazine.