Courtesy of The Conversant
Courtesy of The Conversant

The “Blood-Jet Writing Hour” is an online radio show produced and hosted by UCR alumna Rachelle Cruz. During the show, Cruz interviews various poets to gain insight on their work and their individual writing processes. For an aspiring writer, it’s a goldmine of knowledge about the contemporary poetry landscape and the craft of writing in general. For many people, the poetry landscape is a foggy horizon much too intimidating to approach — by listening to others who have already began the trek, one may feel as if they can plunge ahead with a firmer understanding than if they were at it alone.

There are a mix of newly emerging writers and more established voices on the show. Some of the poets who have come on in the past are Kim Addonizio, Karen Tei Yamashita, Barbara Jane Reyes, Craig Santos Perez, Tamiko Beyer, Duriel Harris, Kate Bernheimer, Diane Wakoski, John Murillo, Ray Gonzalez and Lee Herrick, and the poets who featured on the show offer listeners an impressively diverse list to choose from.

The title comes from Sylvia Plath’s poem “Kindness,” “The blood jet is poetry / There is no stopping it.” The urgency of Plath’s lines can also be detected in the work featured in the show. When a poet is invited to have an interview, they are also given a chance to read some of their work before they discuss it. The site also regularly publishes reviews of poetry collections. Aside from being a learning opportunity, it’s also a way for someone discover new poets to read.

Many students are less than thrilled about having to read poetry for a class, and the number of people reading poetry recreationally these days isn’t anything to boast about. In my experience, the reason many readers are turned off from poetry is because when we are first exposed to it, we are shown the wrong kind of poetry, and thus begin to form concrete opinions that that’s how all poetry is.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the classics — I love Frost and Whitman as much as the next person, but for many today the problem with these authors being taught exclusively in schools is that there isn’t much for them to connect with or relate to.

The Blood-Jet features many writers of color, female writers and queer poets who, in turn, tackle issues that would be more relevant to readers today. Even in today’s poetry climate, balance and representation are an issue. For example, according to the VIDA count (a nonprofit organization that researches such topics) in 2010 “The New York Review of Books covered 306 titles by men in 2010 and only 59 by women; The New York Times Book Review covered 524 books by men compared to 283 books written by women.” The Blood-Jet is one of the many locally run projects combatting this.

So, if you haven’t already been too jaded by all the Shakespeare you were forced to read in high school, give The Blood-Jet a chance, it could change your mind about poetry.