Intonation: “Catfish” -A Poem by Michael McGriff

Intonation features a single poem by a living poet. Five readers, including the poet herself, perform the poem. Monday-Thursday of the selected week feature readings by poets, voice artists, and musicians. On Friday RiffPub presents the poet’s own voice. How will individual readers affect the meaning of the poem? What, sonically, will each reader emphasize? Discover with us.

This Intonation explores a poem by Michael McGriff. Featured readers include Wiley Cash, Ciara Shuttleworth, Malena Morling, and more.
Monday, April 7th:

Wiley Cash Performs “Catfish”

Cash is a bestselling novelist. His most recent book is This Dark Road to Mercy. Learn more about Cash and his work on his website. 

Tuesday, April 8th:

Ciara Shuttleworth Performs “Catfish”

Shuttleworth’s poetry has been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Los Angeles Review, The New Yorker, and many other venues. Learn more about her work on her website.

Wednesday, April 9th:

Malena Mörling Performs “Catfish”

Mörling is a poet, translator, and educator. Her work includes Astoria: Poems and the translation Tomas Tranströmer’s First Poems & Notes From the Land of Lap Fever.

Thursday, April 10th:

Bob Workmon Performs “Catfish”

Workmon is a stage performer, operatic vocal soloist, and professional radio announcer. More info on Workmon is available here. He can be contacted at

Friday, April 11th:

Michael McGriff Performs “Catfish”

About the Poet: Michael McGriff’s books include Home Burial, Dismantling The Hills, and Choke. He is a founding editor of Tavern Books. Learn more about McGriff and his work at The Poetry Foundation. “Catfish” was first published in American Poetry Review and is available in McGriff’s collection Home Burial.  Special thanks to WHQR Public Radio in Wilmington, NC for production space and assistance with recording Workmon, Morling, and Cash.

Two Poems by Lyrically Blessed

Performance poet Lyrically Blessed (LB) recently recorded two poems and a brief interview with us. We’re pleased to present the performances in a simple video format.

“Labels As Curse Words”

Listen to the interview:

LB talks with us about his process, the relationship between hip-hop and poetry, and what he wants to leave his listeners with.


Special thanks to LB for joining the collection of creative voices here. Thanks also to WHQR FM for studio time. Stay tuned this month for more exciting content, including an “Intonation” feature.

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“What Sings is The Drunk Boy’s Hands” -A Poem by Ciara Shuttleworth

This poem by New York based Poet Ciara Shuttleworth first appeared in Los Angeles Review and was recorded at the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho.Ciara Shuttleworth

Ciara has become an advocate for the RiffPub project, actively seeking new voices for us to record and feature. Expect to hear more of her voice and work on RiffPub. Her poetry has been featured in numerous journals, including The New Yorker, Yemassee, Cutthroat, and The Southern Review.

Interview: Daniel Michalak of Bombadil

Earlier this month, we had the privilege of corresponding with Daniel Michalak of the band Bombadil. RiffPub’s Jason Hess asked him some questions about songwriting and the intersection of poetry/music. He answered graciously, and even turned the stock who are your influences? question into a fun riff. We hope this will serve as a prelude to some future in-studio or field recording with these folks. Enjoy these insights from a musician and wordsmith:


Stuart Robinson, Daniel Michalak, James Philips (Credit: The Artist)

Who is the primary songwriter for Bombadil?
We all write. it is a collaborative process. With that said, there are some songs with a principal songwriter and others that may have two or three.

Are there any poets or writers who have particularly influenced your work?
Roald Dahl is my favorite. I am reading Jules Vernes’ Les Revoltes de la Bounty now to practice my French. I didn’t like Wuthering Heights or The Great Gatsby in high school.

In the song “Angeline” I hear what freestyle rappers might call emergency rhymes. That is, some words are pronounced a number of different ways to make the end rhyme work. Why mispronounce words like this? Does it change the meaning?
These were not emergency freestyle rhymes but I definitely lifted the trick from rap/hip hop. I remember the first time I heard it in rap was with J Dilla and I loved it. I did this in our song “Unicycle” also – changed the pronunciation of “hill” to “heel” to rhyme with the lyric “keel”. Most people probably just think it is my southern accent coming through when they hear the song, though. The french also do it with singing, they can pronounce an extra syllable at the end of a lot of words to help with rhyme or flow. “Why mispronounce?” – because it is fun. Yes it does change the meaning, it is subtle though, not like a banana becomes an apple but a banana becomes a banana sundae! I guess that’s not that subtle.

In the song “The Ring” I do see a focus on a single physical object being used to communicate a particular emotion. Is that a conscious choice, to communicate emotions through objects?
…not conscious concious, but definitely it is human to anthropormorphize things or develop relationships with objects that we interact with. For us, lyrics are important, so we like finding new ways to say old things.Tthere are no limits, except your imagination.

Why don’t people dance at poetry readings?
Poetry is dance music for the mind. I am always having to think double time when listening to poetry. I think that means my brain is dancing.

Who are the band’s musical influences? What do you take from these artists when you write a new song?
I can only speak for myself at the moment, as all our influences are constantly changing – I like listening to the background music in the P90X ab ripper exercise. I also like listening to my brother’s songs. old country. new country. pop music. All songs remind me that there are infinite songs to be written and an infinite ways to write them. It is very inspiring.

Special thanks to Ramseur Records, Daniel Michalak, and Bombadil. If you’re interested in learning more about the band, tour dates, and finding music, we encourage you to follow Bombadil on Facebook. Video credit goes to Bombadil via Youtube. Photo Credit:

“Year of the Rat” -A Poem by Michael McGriff

RiffPub is glad to welcome to the stage the poet Mike McGriff. Expect to hear his voice and work in future projects. The following poem was recorded by musician Beau Thorne in Austin, Texas. Check out this strong reading:

Mike in Austin

Michael McGriff is a founding editor of Tavern Books. His most recent collection, Home Burial, is published by Copper Canyon Press. McGriff’s honors include a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University,   A Michener Fellowship from UT Austin, and a Levis Reading Prize from Virginia Commonwealth University.  This poem first appeared in The Cortland Review. Photo Credit: McGriff and Thorne.

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Interview: Folk Singer-Songwriter John Craigie

Folk musician John Craigie, who recently released his eighth studio album, The Apocalypse is Over, sat down to speak with with RiffPub’s Jason Hess. The nine-minute interview even features a pretty great Bob Dylan impression.DSCN0144Craigie  played two original songs for us while in-studio:

A live recording of “28″

Craigie spoke with RiffPub spoke about his songwriting process, writing bad poetry during high school, the importance of connecting with an audience, and what he sees as the differences between poetry and music.

“Free Drinks for Everyone” Live

For more information on the music of John Craigie visit or follow his folksy wanderings on Facebook. Special thanks go to WHQR in Wilmington, NC for studio time and expertise.

“Cemetery Moles” -A Poem by Robert Wrigley

The poet Robert Wrigley performs an original poem in a studio on campus at The University of Idaho, where he is a professor. Listen to this commanding reading:

Levels, Broadcasting Live

“Cemetery Moles” was first published by The Atlantic Monthly and appears in the collection Beautiful Country. Robert Wrigley lives outside of Moscow, Idaho with his wife Kim Barnes. His most recent collection is Anatomy of Melancholy and Other Poems (Penguin, 2013). He is a professor at the University of Idaho. For more information on Wrigley and his work, visit his bio at The Poetry Foundation.

Intonation: “Can’t Get Over Her” -A Poem by Ellen Bass

RiffPub presents Intonation:

Intonation features a single poem by a living poet. Five readers, including the poet herself, perform the poem. Monday-Thursday of the selected week feature readings by poets, voice artists, and musicians. On Friday RiffPub presents the poet’s own voice. How will individual readers affect the meaning of the poem? What, sonically, will each reader emphasize? Discover with us.

The first Intonation explores a poem by Ellen Bass. Featured readers are Ciara Shuttleworth, Jason Mott, Robert Wrigley, and Hannah Lomas.
Monday, October 7th:

Ciara Shuttleworth performs Can’t Get Over Her” 

Shuttleworth is a poet and painter. Her poetry has been featured in numerous journals, including The New Yorker, Yemassee, Cutthroat, and  Los Angeles Review.

Tuesday, October 8th:

Jason Mott performs “Can’t Get Over Her”

Mott is a poet and novelist. His novel The Returned will appear in March, 2014 on ABC as a television series under the title Resurrection. More at

Wednesday, October 9th:

Robert Wrigley performs “Can’t Get Over Her”

Wrigley is a Moscow, Idaho based poet. His work has been published in numerous journals. His honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Thursday, October 10th:

Hannah Lomas performs “Can’t Get Over Her”

Hannah Lomas is a singer-songwriter with the folk-style trio Stray Local. Find a video of the group performing an original song here.

Friday, October 11th:

Ellen Bass performs “Can’t Get Over Her”

Bass speaks about the process of writing this poem:


About the Poet: Ellen Bass has a new book of poetry, Like a Beggar, forthcoming in February, 2014 from Copper Canyon Press. Previous books include The Human Line (Copper Canyon Press) and Mules of Love (BOA Editions) which won the Lambda Literary Award. Her poems have appeared in hundreds of journals and anthologies, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The American Poetry Review,  and The New Republic. More information on Bass and her work is available at

This poem was first published by Nimrod. We extend a special thank you to Ellen Bass for granting RiffPub permission to use her work, spending time recording, and for her willingness to be our first “Intonation” featured poet. We also thank J.D. Hilard and KUSP Public Radio Santa Cruz for donating studio time and expertise.

“Stars of Eger” -A Poem by Tony Reevy

The poet Tony Reevy recently recorded a poem for us in the WHQR studios in Wilmington, North Carolina. Listen to Reevy read “Stars of Eger.”

Tony Reevy

During his visit, we asked him to discuss the differences between writing a poem and writing a song. As both a poet and songwriter, his views are pretty compelling. Learn how isolation in New Mexico, Taylor Swift, Big Star, and Hank Williams have all influenced the poetry of Tony Reevy:

Reevy is a poet, respected train historian, musician, and environmentalist. He currently serves as the Senior Associate Director of the Institute for the Environment at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

        “Stars of Eger” was first published by Pembroke Magazine. Learn more about the work of Tony Reevy on his official website.

“Our First Date” -A Poem by Jason Mott

Poet and novelist Jason Mott recorded a few poems with Riffpub recently. A special thanks goes to WHQR Public Radio for donating studio time for this recording.

“Our First Date” originally appeared in the collection We Call This Thing Between Us Love published by Main Street Rag Publishing Company.

Jason Mott at WHQR

Mott is currently on tour (like a rock star) promoting The Returned, his debut novel. The Returned will appear in March, 2014 on ABC as a television series under the title Resurrection. More information on Mott and his work is available on his website or Facebook page.