Transcript: Poems on Air, Episode 47 - Kiki Petrosino

The following transcript is provided for accessibility only. Layout, formatting, and typography of poems may differ from the original text. We recommend referring to the original, published works when possible to experience the poems as intended by their authors.

[Music intro]

LYNNE THOMPSON: Hello! My name is Lynne Thompson, Poet Laureate for the City of Los Angeles and I’m so happy to welcome listeners to this installment of Poems on Air, a podcast supported by the Los Angeles Public Library. Every week, I’ll present the work of poets I admire, poets who you should know, and poets who have made a substantial and inimitable contribution to the art and craft of poetry.

LYNNE THOMPSON: More often than not, a good book will stay on your mind long after you’ve first read it. Kiki Petrosino’s collection White Blood, A Lyric of Virginia, is one of those for me. Petrosino directs the Creative Writing Program at the University of Virginia, where she is a Professor of Poetry and the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Fellowship in Creative Writing from the National Endowment for the Arts, the UNT Rilke Prize, and the Spalding Prize, among other honors. Her memoir, Bright, is scheduled for release later this year.

LYNNE THOMPSON: Today’s poem is "Prelude" by Kiki Petrosino.


You’re on a train & your ancestors are in the Quiet Car.

The Quiet Car is locked with a password you can’t decrypt.

You’re a professional password decrypter, but your ancestors are
demolition experts.

You’re wearing black tactical gear & your ancestors are wearing
black tactical gear.

You’re dashing through each compartment, slamming doors open,
while your ancestors lay small explosives.

As heat expands within the carriage, you escape through a
picture window.

You climb to the top of the train & your ancestors rappel down
the sides.

You’re rappelling down one side of the train when you glimpse your
ancestors above you.

They leap from carriage to carriage as if weightless, as if drifting, as
if curling tongues of snow.

You cling to the side of the train as each of your ancestors lifts away
from you.

They float into the cloud of themselves.

In the rushing light, you perceive them as hundreds of slow
snake doctors.


you begin.

LYNNE THOMPSON: The Los Angeles Poet Laureate was created as a joint program between the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs and the Los Angeles Public Library and this podcast is available wherever you get your podcasts. Thanks for listening!

[Music outro]

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  • DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a certified or verbatim transcript, but rather represents only the context of the class or meeting, subject to the inherent limitations of real-time captioning. The primary focus of real-time captioning is general communication access and as such this document is not suitable, acceptable, nor is it intended for use in any type of legal proceeding. Transcript provided by the author.