Radio Plays by Kevin Gallagher


These radio poems are ‘talking sonnets’ in the American grain. While they are ‘sonnets’ that echo the Italian and to a lesser extent the English versions of the form, they are more analogous to the ‘talking blues’ of John Lee Hooker, the Reverend Gary Davis, Woody Guthrie, and Bob Dylan. The talking blues brought projective verse to the more formal and imported blues ‘ballad’ and hit a peak in the late 1950s and early 1960s America.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 166
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: March, 2019
  • ISBN: 978-1-948017-40-4


In the hectic age of decentralized podcasts, the idea of the radio play takes on a new urgency and vitality. In these dramatic monologues and vignettes, Kevin Gallagher has created a set of serial poems with amazing poetic flexibility. Full of narrative invention and intimate portraits of humble lives, these “talking sonnets” call to mind the oral tradition of the ballad as well. They shimmy with a deft, agile vernacular, carrying echoes of Williams and Olson and even E.A. Robinson.

You know what they say about you our way?
That the Grand Banks send waves that gallop

on green horses with white manes, Freddy said,
that the boats swing hilariously

between crests and troughs like empty hammocks
in fierce winds …

Richly textured and closely observed, these marvelous poems sing vividly the felt experience of a way of life that may already be disappearing. —Patrick Pritchett


Man Talk

Oh my God if I could have just one night
with a fair skinned Venezuelan woman

with big white boobs and with big white booty
I’m the happiest man in Port of Spain

and I won’t look at another girl again!
A Liquid Gold for him, Carib for me,

Kendon said to Justin, ordering beers.
The bar television was showing boats

of Venezuelans fleeing Maduro’s
long lines at the grocery store.

They clinked the green bottle to the gold one
then swung around startled in their barstools.

The mermaids are strutting from the ocean!
Justin replied, Your wish just might come true.


 Kevin GallagherKevin Gallagher is a poet, publisher, and political economist living in Boston, Massachusetts with his wife, Kelly, kids Theo and Estelle, and dog Rexroth. His recent books are Loom and And Yet it Moves. Gallagher edits spoKe, a Boston-area journal of poetry and poetics. He works as a professor of global development policy at Boston University.

Additional information

Weight 10.9 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .50 in