From Poetry Magazine

A Playlist for the December 2018 Issue

By Nam Le

For our December 2018 playlist, we asked contributor Nam Le to curate a selection of music for us. You can read about his approach to creating the playlist below. Click here to open the playlist in your Spotify app.

Oh, babyyy. This has been a long time coming. Ever since my career as a DJ was cruelly lopped at first bloom when, at my first gig at a friend’s daughter’s eleventh birthday dance party, I took too long to line up the crossfade from Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me” and suddenly there’s City Spud disbursing invitations to “do me like you should, fuck me good, suck me good”; ever since a dear poet friend, over a poker game under mine own roof, panned my music as “Teddy Pendergrass on an Aussie beach” (the Tevin Campbell’s for you, Broc Rossell!), I’ve been raring to back up with some sort of playlist like this. Because music means never having to say you’re sorry! (Or was that love?) And because poets can get a bit semio-crazed and our protective rigs of irony and esoterism aren’t always a great fit with music. (Don’t get me wrong: I dig the snobbishness of poets—I like, e.g., that they’re more likely than fictioneers to dis Dylan’s Nobel.) But sometimes, right, it feels good to just own what you like. (Or was that love?)

Putting this set together, my only rule was that I must, at some time, have loved each song—like loopily on-repeat loved it. All the rest of it—referentiality, harmonics of theme and subject, the general jibing of songs to poems—I (ahem) played by ear. Death lies all through these poems. And magic, and sex. I’ve tried to choose songs to suit but you’ll have to take my word for it—music, that high-grade solvent, admits whatever language or emotion we throw at it.

Mainly, I’m grateful. To have had this chance/reason to loiter with artistic intent in these poems. To hang with this murderers’ row of poets. There’s killer stuff on pretty much every page of this issue. So, please, accept this invitation: lie back, kick off your thongs, and feel the summer sand down under!

Originally Published: December 7th, 2018
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Nam Le is author of The Boat (Knopf, 2008), winner of the PEN/Malamud Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the Dylan Thomas Prize. His poems have recently appeared in ConjunctionsBoston ReviewHarvard Review and The Monthly. His short book on David Malouf will be published in 2019.