Joshua Bennett and Justin Rovillos Monson in Conversation
Play • 40 min

In this week’s episode, Bennett and Monson get into literary ancestors, Monson’s top 5 rappers of all time, and what the future of poetry in this country might look like (if we are brave enough to invest in our young people). 

Monson spoke to us from the Michigan Department of Corrections in Freeland, Michigan. His poems are featured in “The Practice of Freedom” issue, which focuses on poetry and visual art produced by artists who have been directly affected by the criminal legal system. Joshua Bennett guest edited the issue alongside Tara Betts and Sarah Ross. 

In Bennett words, “Justin Monson is one of the most courageous, original, daring poets working today. I first encountered his work three years ago, as a judge for PEN America’s Writing for Justice Fellowship, and was absolutely taken aback from the very first lines. The work shimmered. Monson has a fantastic ear, and a citational breadth that is truly a wonder to behold; it’s clear that he reads, and listens, to everything. Postcolonial theory, 90s hip-hop, erasure poetry. It’s all there. All of these traditions are part of the world Monson paints on the page, and is generous enough to share with us.”

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