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Singer-Songwriter Jim McCormick

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The poetics of pickup trucks and cutoffs are not lost on Jim McCormick. Nor are the subtleties of Trans Ams and the beverage choices of the young and hay-baling set. And that's how it should be for a poet-turned-Nashville songwriter. 

A New Orleans native (and still occasional resident), McCormick penned two of last year's number one songs on the country charts. But all that success — and it is considerable — hasn't gone to his head. He's stayed humble. And funny. And grateful for the collaborations and to the mentors through the years.

He brought his guitar into the studio to play a little, including some brand new material, as we talked about his career. Sit back and enjoy the conversation.


Roland Flint, former poet laureate of Maryland.

Jim McCormick fondly remembers the influence that Roland Flint had on his life and his life's work. 

Flint was an American poet and professor of English at Georgetown University. He died in 2001.

"I was so blessed to have him as a teacher," McCormick says. "He taught me how to read poetry, and how to think of poetry, and how to think of myself as a poet — which is, not to think of myself as a poet at all."

McCormick sees his work today as an extension of his work as a poet. And he credits Flint's workaday attitude as an influence in finding the right words to craft for country singers.

During the show, we feature a recording of Flint reading his poem "Pamela, on February 8, 1982," [Stubborn: POEMS, in the National Poetry Series, Univ. of Illinois Press, 1990]  which he wrote on his daughter's 16th birthday and which recalls the death of her twin brother, Ethan. 

Here's Flint reading a related poem.

Roland Flint reads

Our thanks to poet Grace Cavalieri for the recordings of Roland Flint's poetry.



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Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans native, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, where she brings to bear the knowledge and experience she amassed as senior editor of Weekend Edition, an East Africa correspondent, the holder of Nieman and Watson Fellowships, and as a longtime student of music from around the world.