Rural Poetics

Popular and academic discourse alike tend to dismiss the rural as homogenous and backwards, peripheral to any and all culture. Against this reductionism, Rural Poetics is a podcast series with two aims: 1) to explore the vibrant past and present of small press publishing projects local to Tompkins County, and 2) to understand the ways that rural and small-town geographies shape literary production. 

Through interviews and readings with working poets from across the rural United States—as well as individuals involved in the rich small press histories of our own region—Rural Poetics explores the strategies through which rural and “outsider” publishing endeavors have survived to build sustainable literary communities. Our guests are artists whose creative endeavors are deeply informed by specific geographies, and together, we consider the affordances of geographic specificity—the “regional”—as a counterpoint to capitalist dislocation, to the pervasive placelessness that condones colonialist violence and extraction.

Listen to Rural Poetics episodes:

  1. Rural Poetics: Part 1 with Nikki Wallschlaeger
    In this episode, author Nikki Wallschlaeger reads 11 poems from her latest published collection of poetry-- Waterbaby (2021, Copper Canyon Press). Nikki also speaks with Rural Poetics host Marty Cain, to contextualize her work, sharing stories insights into her writing process and geographic inspirations.

  2. Rural Poetics: Part 2 with Nancy Bereano
    This episode features Nancy Bereano, founder of Ithaca’s groundbreaking, award-winning lesbian and feminist press, Firebrand Books (1985-2000). Speaking with Rural Poetics host Alec Pollak, Bereano reflects on the heyday of feminist small-press publishing, Ithaca’s queer social scene, and the early days of publishing notable authors such as Alison Bechdel, Leslie Feinberg, and Audre Lorde.

  3. Rural Poetics: Part 3 with Tim Earley
    This third episode of the Rural Poetics podcast series features poetry author Tim Earley, visiting assistant professor of English at the University of Mississippi. Earley’s dynamic range of diction mixes the academic vocabulary of continental theory with his own roots of Appalachian vernacular English. Tim’s work directly confronts the class hierarchies of U.S. poetry communities, giving audiences a language to better understand the complexity of contemporary rural life.



  • Marty Cain, poet and doctoral candidate in literatures in English, Cornell University
  • Alec Pollak, doctoral candidate in literatures in English, Cornell University