On this month’s episode of the Deerfield Public Library Podcast, I have the honor of presenting a conversation with acclaimed poet and critic Dan Chiasson about his newest book of poetry, The Math Campers. Dan Chiasson is the poetry critic for The New Yorker, a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, and teaches English at Wellesley College. 

The Math Campers, Chiasson’s fifth book of poetry, has a thrilling and unique structure. Imagining a reader who narrates her correspondence with a poet named Dan Chiasson, the book contains poetic scraps, drafts, and blank spaces, which only sometimes lead to more completed poems. This “making-of” structure coincides with Chiasson’s continued investigations into his childhood and adolescence, as his sons enter adolescence themselves. Add a science fiction plot about a group of teen summer campers trying to stop time, and you have a collection both zany and elegiac that questions the nature of art. 

We discuss where these ideas come from, and why poetry does what it does. You’ll also hear Dan read some of his poems and reflect on the lineage of poets cited in this book, including T.S. Eliot, James Merrill, and Frank Bidart. 

You can checkout The Math Campers at the Deerfield Public Library, and find Dan Chiasson on Twitter @dchiasso

We hope you enjoy our 45th episode and the start of our fifth year! Each month we release an episode featuring conversations with notable guests, including authors, artists, and leaders from Deerfield, Chicagoland, and around the world. Learn more about the podcast on our podcast page.

You can listen to all of our episodes in the player below or on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. We welcome your comments and feedback—please send to [email protected].