“After the poem has passed out of the hands of the one who’s written it down, and after that person may have departed from time and space and be wafting around as atoms, who else can a poem belong to? For whom does the bell toll? For you, dear reader.” -Margaret Atwood, episode 265 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
Today we are joined by legendary writer Margaret Atwood! We begin with her new collection of essays, Burning Questions (5:41), which wrestle with catastrophe (6:15), growing up in the wilderness (8:19) under egalitarian parents (12:02), and how she circumvented the traditional roles for women of the 1950s (13:32). She also shares some personal stories: her first book signing event (16:52), the day she met her late husband Graeme Gibson (18:53), and the innumerable ways in which he’d shape her life (20:30).
On the back-half we discuss the historical antecedents behind The Handmaid’s Tale (24:20), its renewed relevance amid threats to Roe v. Wade (26:56), the debate around ‘the writer as political agent’ (23:15), patriarchal gatekeeping inside the publishing industry (36:01), the limits of art-making (40:00), and why she continues to write at age 82 (41:42).
To close, Margaret reads from both her elegiac poem Dearly (43:00) and her essay “Polonia” (48:35).
To submit a comment, question, or reflection for our upcoming mailbag episode, write us at email@example.com.
- Order Margaret’s latest book, Burning Questions.
- Purchase her poetry collection Dearly.
- Learn more about Margaret Atwood’s work on her website.
- Follow Margaret Atwood on Instagram and Twitter.
- For more, find recommended talks with Gloria Steinem, Naomi Klein, Richard Powers, Jhumpa Lahiri, George Saunders, Roxane Gay, Nikki Giovanni, Ocean Vuong, and Elizabeth Gilbert.
- Order your Talk Easy mug in cream and navy or our vinyl record with Fran Lebowitz.
Illustrations by: Krishna Shenoi.
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