Poetry in the Air

BMCC English Professor James Tolan
August 4, 2014

Recently, BMCC professor of English and poet James Tolan was interviewed, along with poet Olivia Stiffler, on the nationally distributed public radio program, New Letters on the Air.

Hosted and produced by Angela Elam, the show is an independent production of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and serves as audio companion to the literary magazine, New Letters.

In the interview, Tolan and Stiffler discuss their mentorship, which began at a Savannah, Georgia writing workshop.

Having made her poetry a low priority while she focused on family life, Stiffler was encouraged by Tolan to envision her work as a complete collection and eventually, he helped her find a publisher, Dos Madres Press, for her 2013 debut collection, Otherwise, We Are Safe.

The interview recording includes a segment in which Stiffler reads from her first collection, and Tolan reads from his most recent book of poetry, Mass of the Forgotten, from Autumn House Press. He also discusses co-editing the 2012 collection of drama, poetry and short stories, New America: Contemporary Literature for a Changing Society.

In addition to his full-length collection, Professor Tolan has authored the poetry chapbooks Red Walls, from Dos Madres Press and Fresh Fruit and Gravity, from Far Gone Books. His poems appear in journals including The American Literary Review, Indiana Review and Ploughshares. At BMCC, he teaches Intensive Writing, Creative Writing, Modern Poetry and other subjects.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The radio interview described in this article contains some mature content.

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