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PBS Newshour - Poetry

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A special NewsHour series that couples profiles of contempory poets with reports on news and trends in the world of poetry.






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Weekly Poem: Rachel Zucker reads ‘wish you were here you are’

Rachel Zucker reads her poem “wish you were here you are” from her new collection “The Pedestrians.” wish you were here you are time isn’t the same for everyone there is science behind this when you fly into space you’re not experiencing time at the same rate as someone tethered to Earth & someone moving quickly experiences time at a slower rate even on Earth so as I run through Central Park at a speed not much faster than walking but slightly I am shattering fields of time around me &...

Duration: 00:11:18

Weekly Poem: Dan Chiasson and his poetry time machine

Photo of Dan Chaisson by Nicholas Chaisson Poet Dan Chiasson started working on his book “Bicentennial” after the death of his father, who left when Chiasson was 7 months old. While the two never really knew each other, that event prompted Chiasson to revisit his childhood in a series of poems that play with memory and a sense of time. “I feel like, almost in an H. G. Wells way, poems are like a time machine. You can go back and bring the past to life again. So that’s what I did, what I...

Duration: 00:01:12

Weekly Poem: W. S. Di Piero uses language to create ‘emotional immediacy’

W. S. Di Piero photo by Beth WeberW. S. Di Piero never wants to hear again that his poems are intense. “You get tired of hearing certain things if they get said so many times about the kind of work you do. I don’t write poems that are discursive or casual sounding or stroke my beard deliberative. That’s not what I do,” Di Piero told Art Beat. Instead, the poet, whose recent collection “Tombo” was released in January, would rather think about his use of language. “I’d like to think that...

Duration: 00:00:50

Weekly Poem: Mark Bibbins takes ‘little pieces’ to craft layers of meaning

Mark BibbonsIn “They Don’t Kill You Because They’re Hungry. They Kill You Because They’re Full,” Mark Bibbins writes what he calls “persona poems.” One of his poems is in the voice of Pat Robertson, another in the voice of Medusa (although not necessarily the classic Medusa from Greek mythology). Sometimes, the voice of his poems changes more subtly, responding more to a mood or a perceived audience than channeling a whole different person. “We speak differently to a child then we do to...

Duration: 00:01:12

Weekly Poem: Ron Padgett reads ‘Thinking about the Moon’

Thinking about the Moon As a child I thought the moon existed only at night: there it was in the dark sky. When I saw it in daytime I knew it was the moon but it wasn’t the real one. It was that other one. The real moon had moonlight, silver and blue And the full moon was so big it seemed close, but to what? (I didn’t know I was on Earth). “Thinking about the Moon” is reprinted by permission from Collected Poems (Coffee House Press, 2013). Copyright © 2013 by Ron Padgett. Photo by John...

Duration: 00:00:36

Weekly Poem: Rachel Zucker pulls inspiration from the noise of New York

Rachel Zucker was once told that poets either write out of noise or out of silence and she has no doubt which category she falls into. Zucker just published a new collection of poems called “The Pedestrians.” A native of New York, she has lived in the city for almost her entire life, which has greatly influenced her poetry. “Being a New Yorker is very intrinsic to my personality,” Zucker told Art Beat. “New York has always shown up in all my poems, but in this book, I was really interested...

Duration: 00:01:56

Weekly Poem: E. E. Cummings biographer reads his poem ‘Cambridge Ladies’

the Cambridge ladies who live in furnished souls are unbeautiful and have comfortable minds (also, with the church’s protestant blessings daughters, unscented shapeless spirited) they believe in Christ and Longfellow, both dead, are invariably interested in so many things– at the present writing one still finds delighted fingers knitting for the is it Poles? perhaps. While permanent faces coyly bandy scandal of Mrs. N and Professor D …the Cambridge ladies do not care above Cambrdige if...

Duration: 00:00:48

Weekly Poem: Nick Lantz uses ‘how-to’ guides as inspiration

Nick Lantz’s new collection of poems is called “How to Dance as the Roof Caves in.” Photo by Vicky Lantz If you pick up Nick Lantz’s new poetry collection, “How to Dance as the Roof Caves in,” you’ll recognize the “self-help” theme running through the titles. To name a few: “How to Travel Alone,” “How to Forgive a Promise Breaker,” “How to Dance When You Do Not Know How to Dance” and even “How to Appreciate Inorganic Matter.” When he first started composing poems for this book, he found a...

Duration: 00:02:21

Weekly Poem: Peter Cole writes about why we read poetry

Peter Cole thinks of all poetry as translation. “Writing one’s own poetry, you’re translating a nonverbal experience or a less than articulate experience into something much more articulate,” he told Art Beat. In addition to writing his own, Cole translates Hebrew and Arabic poetry into English. When Cole finished translating 2,000 years of Jewish mystical poetry for his previous project “The Poetry of Kabbalah” (Yale University Press, 2012), he was ready to start producing his own work...

Duration: 00:01:40

Scholar reflects on poetic odyssey to bring medieval Persian verse to the W

The works of 14th century Persian poet Hafez are iconic in Iran. Poet and scholar Dick Davis has spent years bringing the medieval writer's words to the West. Jeffrey Brown talks to Davis about his experiences with Persian culture, the challenges of translating and his new book, "Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz."

Duration: 00:06:00

Poet Billy Collins discusses humor, authenticity and 'Aimless Love'

"I knew that poets seemed to be miserable," says writer Billy Collins about his younger self, yearning to fit in. While he admits he "faked a miserable character" at the start of his career, he's since embraced his sense of humor. Jeffrey Brown talks to Collins about his new collection, "Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems."

Duration: 00:06:42

Young Detroiters unlock their inner poets, claim authorship of their experi

Detroit schools are turning their students into published poets with a little guidance from professional writers and a program called InsideOut. Jeffrey Brown reflects with U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey about visiting the Motor City middle-schoolers and the "sense of power" she witnessed as they found their voices.

Duration: 00:08:20

Death of Kofi Awoonor in Nairobi Attack Is 'Great Loss' for Ghana and Poetr

Kofi Awoonor, a Ghanaian poet, diplomat and academic, was among the victims murdered in a terrorist attack at a shopping mall in Nairobi. Awoonor's nephew Kwame Dawes, another renowned poet, was traveling with his uncle to attend a literary festival in Kenya when he was killed. Dawes joins Jeffrey Brown to honor his legacy.

Duration: 00:06:09

Poetry Project Helps Dementia Patients Live in the Moment

In our new series, "Where Poetry Lives," Natasha Trethewey, poet laureate of the United States, and Jeffrey Brown spends time atthe Alzheimer's Poetry Project in Brooklyn. The international program works with people with dementia to try to trigger memory by playfully engaging with language.

Duration: 00:08:24

100 Years, 100 Poems: Celebrating the Centennial for Poetry Magazine

"Print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre or approach." Those were the ambitious words written 100 years ago by Harriet Monroe when she founded Poetry, now the oldest monthly journal devoted to verse. Jeffrey Brown speaks with the magazine's editor, poet Christian Wiman, about a new anniversary collection.

Duration: 00:08:04

After Sandy, Poet Describes 'What It Means to Stand in the Rubble of Your L

Jennifer Fitzgerald's family and friends have been greatly impacted by superstorm Sandy, and though she immediately got involved in relief efforts in her Staten Island community, she felt that her poetry would be another way to reach a much larger audience and explain the physical and emotional impact Sandy had on New York.

Duration: 00:04:12

Finding Poetry in the Athleticism and Lingo of the Olympics

Writer and professor Priscila Uppal is serving as "Poet in Residence" for Canadian Athletes Now, a non-profit group supporting Canada's athletes at the 2012 London Olympics. Uppal talks to Jeffrey Brown about her residency and where she's found inspiration, as well as sharing some of her poetry.

Duration: 00:05:24

In Anthology, Rita Dove Connects American Poets' Intergenerational Conversa

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove was recently given what may be the biggest honor -- and challenge -- of her career: sorting through poems from the last 100 years to create "The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry." Jeffrey Brown and Dove discuss the task that took more than four years.

Transtromer, Swedish Poet With 'Tinge of Modernism, Surrealism,' Wins Nobel

The 2011 Nobel Prize for Literature has gone to Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, the first poet to win the award since 1996. Judges selected Transtromer because, they wrote, "through his condensed, translucent images, he gives us fresh access to reality."

Weekly Poem: From 'Fugue'

Elizabeth Alexander was born in Harlem, raised in Washington, D.C., and attended Yale University, where she now teaches African American Studies. She is the author of six books of poems, including most recently, "Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010."
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