The History of Literature #379 – Gwendolyn Brooks | Bharati Preview 2 (with Mira Sundara Rajan)

379 Gwendolyn Brooks | Bharati Preview 2 (with Mira Sundara Rajan)

When the poet Gwendolyn Brooks “writes out of her heart, out of her rich and living background, out of her very real talent,” said The New York Times, “she induces almost unbearable excitement.” From her “headquarters” in Chicago, Brooks spent her life writing poems about the joys and struggles of the Black Americans on the streets around her. A consummate artist with full command of her craft, along with an insatiable curiosity and a deep well of empathy, Brooks produced more than 20 volumes of poetry and other works over the span of a 70-year publishing career. She was the first Black person to win the Pulitzer Prize (in any category); the first Black American woman to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters; a national poet laureate; the poet laureate of Illinois for 38 years–and those are just some of her many accomplishments and honors. In this episode, Jacke takes a look at the life and works of this indelible American poet. PLUS we get another visit from Professor Mira Sundara Rajan for a sneak preview of our forthcoming episode on the “Supreme Poet” C. Subramania Bharati.

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The History of Literature #309 – HoL Presents: The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (A Storybound Project)

309 HoL Presents: The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (A Storybound Project)

The History of Literature presents a short story by Deesha Philyaw, author of The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, produced by Storybound. PLUS! In preparation for our Writers Block episode, we hear from three great writers – Virginia Woolf, Iris Murdoch, and Franz Kafka – who privately (and achingly) wrote about not writing. Enjoy!

Deesha Philyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction, a finalist for The Story Prize (2020/2021), and longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. Her work has been listed as Notable in the Best American Essays series, and her writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Brevity, dead housekeeping, Apogee Journal, Catapult, Harvard Review, ESPN’s The UndefeatedThe Baltimore Review, TueNight, Ebony and Bitch magazines, and various anthologies. Deesha is a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and a past Pushcart Prize nominee for essay writing in Full Grown People.

The music composition and sound design for this story is by Glasys. Glasys (Gil Assayas) is a pianist, synthesist, producer and vocalist who delivers intricate virtuosic keyboard parts, electronic soundscapes and impassioned vocals in one package that combines his many influences including Electronic music, Alternative Rock, Jazz and Classical music.

Storybound is a radio theater program designed for the podcast age. Hosted by Jude Brewer and with original music composed for each episode, the podcast features the voices of today’s literary icons reading their essays, poems, and fiction.

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The History of Literature Podcast is a member of Lit Hub Radio and the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at