COVID Check-In with Sven Birkerts

Virtual Memories Show
COVID Check-In: Sven Birkerts

“The people I envy the most are the ones who can attain that higher zen-level of ‘things happen as they need to’. The level I really try to avoid is complete paranoia.”

Today’s installment of The COVID-19 Sessions comes from Arlington, MA, where essayist and AGNI co-editor Sven Birkerts checks in to let us know what books and poems provide him some degree of solace during the pandemic. We talk about what normal might look like in future and the way the recent past seems unreal, his daily challenge of taking an interesting photo for his amazing Instagram feed, the theme of ongoingness in literature, caring for his 92-year-old mom, and more. Give it a listen!

“The main reason I’m reading these Polish postwar poets and essayists right now is that they manage to keep a close poetic eye on the particulars of living, which we can’t let go of, but they also have or incorporate that slightly larger metaphysical perspective that puts circumstances in a larger, historical frame.”

Listen to the conversation! Then check out the archives for more conversations from The Before Times.

You can listen to all these COVID Check-In episodes at The COVID-19 Sessions.

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About our Guest

Sven Birkerts is the author of Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age and nine previous books, including The Other Walk: Essays, The Gutenberg Elegies, The Art of Time in Memoir: Then, Again, and My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time. He recently stepped down as director of the Bennington Writing Seminars, and he also edits the journal AGNI based at Boston University. He lives in Arlington, Massachusetts, and he’s on Twitter as svenbirkerts and Instagram as cyberbirk.

Credits: The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Sven, the books he’s reading, and that duck by him. The duck is on his instagram.

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