Poet David Biespiel loves flying.
In fact, he loves it so much that he was moved to write his latest collection of poems while airborne — or sometimes lodged in hotel rooms — as he traveled an accumulated 200,000 miles between 2007 and 2011.
“During that era,” Biespiel explains, “it was kind of routine. I love to fly. I fly a lot. You could fly me in a dishwasher, so long as you could land it.”
The subjects of Biespiel’s new book of poetry, Charming Gardeners, are friends of his from every corner of the U.S., including his wife and son, writers like Christian Wiman, and intellectual adversaries like William F. Buckley and Cesar Conda.
Born in Oklahoma and raised in Texas, you can hear just a ghost of a drawl when Biespiel speaks. But when he reads his poetry, that ghost takes form, both in Biespiel’s accent and in his invocations of places like Confederate battlefields and West Virginian cemeteries.
This fall, he’s busy with the Attic Institute, which he founded to give writers a haven for developing their craft. In addition, he contributes to Politico, the New Republic, Poetry Magazine, Slate and many other imprints.
In recent years, Biespiel has been an advocate for civic involvement — and more pointedly, political involvement — by poets and other writers. As to whether that call has been answered, Biespiel says, “I do think there are poets who are masters of language, [who] try to use the rationale, the reason, the logic, the emotion, the passion that they bring to their art form into the public conversation. It’s taking place more and more.”
Biespiel stopped by OPB’s State of Wonder to talk about his work. Listen to the audio stream at the top of this page to hear our conversation.