Poets Aloud

Pádraig Ó Tuama &
Philip Metres

Pádraig Ó Tuama

Written by the engaging host of the popular show, Poetry Unbound, the poems of Kitchen Hymns are finely honed melodies of survival—shaped with both humor and anger, force and conviction.

Pádraig Ó Tuama’s Kitchen Hymns opens with a question: “Do You Believe in God?” — but the bee, “gone extinct,” cannot answer, and the grass calls believe “a poor verb.” This collection trades belief for language, and philosophy is grounded in form and narrative. Kitchen Hymns is structured like a ghost mass, where even if God is a “favorite emptiness,” longing still has things to say: Jesus and Persephone meet at Hell’s exit and discuss survival; someone believes more in birds than belief; hares carry messages from the overworld to the underworld. A study in lyric address, Kitchen Hymns speaks to a shifting “you”: an unknown you; the strange you; a lover, a hated other; the you of erotic desire; the you of creation and destruction. Large themes are informed by and contained in a poetics of observation, humor, trauma, dialogics, lament, rage and praise. Delivered in finely honed melodies, shaped with force and conviction, Kitchen Hymns “reckon[s] with the empty,” and becomes “busy with a body / not a question.”

Irish poet and theologian Pádraig Ó Tuama’s work centers around themes of language, power, conflict and religion. He is the author of several books of poetry and prose: Feed the Beast, Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community, In the Shelter, Sorry for your Troubles, and Readings from the Books of Exile. Ó Tuama is also the host of the popular podcast Poetry Unbound, which immerses the listener into one poem every week, and the author of the collection, Poetry Unbound, an expansion on the podcast that offers reflections on fifty powerful poems. He splits his time between Ireland and NYC.

Philip Metres

Dynamically pairing traditional and experimental forms, Philip Metres traces ancient and modern migrations in an investigation of the ever-shifting idea of home.

In Fugitive/Refuge, Philip Metres follows the journey of his refugee ancestors—from Lebanon to Mexico to the United States—in a vivid exploration of what it means to long for home. A book-length qasida, the collection draws on both ancient traditions and innovative forms—odes and arabics, sonnets and cut-ups, prayers and documentary voicings, heroic couplets and homophonic translations—in order to confront the perils of our age: forced migration, climate change, and toxic nationalism.

Philip Metres is the author of ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). His other works include The Sound of Listening (essays), Pictures at an Exhibition (poems), the translation I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky, and Sand Opera. His work has garnered fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as six Ohio Arts Council grants, the Hunt Prize, the Adrienne Rich Award, two Arab American Book Awards, the Watson Fellowship, the Lyric Poetry Award, the Alice James Award, the Creative Workforce Fellowship, and the Cleveland Arts Prize. He is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.


Kitchen Hymns (pre-order) and Fugitive/Refuge available from White Whale Bookstore.



Thursday, February 20, 2025 at 6 p.m.


This lecture is livestreamed and available to view on our YouTube channel for one week.
Registration may also be completed by email at info@pittsburghlectures.org or by phone at 412.622.8866.


Carnegie Library Lecture Hall
4400 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15213


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