Poetry in a Troubled Time

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Original Air Date: 
April 04, 2020

Why do people turn to poetry during troubled times? We saw it after 9/11 and we're seeing it now as the coronavirus travels around the world. When the world seems broken, poetry is often the one kind of language that helps.

Empty New York streets
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In Lake Mills, Wisconsin, a retired school teacher named Kitty O'Meara wrote a short poem at lunch one day and posted it to friends on Facebook. A week later, it had been shared by Deepak Chopra, Oprah Winfrey and millions of other people.

Length: 
5:12
"The Tradition" book cover design by Phil Kovacevich and art by Ralphi Burgess. (Copper Canyon Press)
Articles

Jericho Brown is an award-winning poet who has been working with religious language for a long time. His poems have titles like "1 Corinthians 13:11" and "Hebrews 13." His book "The Tradition" continues to mine Brown's childhood in the church.

Length: 
13:33
Ghosts
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Poet Edward Hirsch has written many collections of poetry and criticism. He wrote the long-running “Poet’s Choice” column in the Washington Post. He spoke with Steve Paulson about his elegy to his son, “Gabriel: A Poem.”

Length: 
11:05
Alice Walker
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Hope is a complicated, even slippery, word. One that demands a poet’s voice. Here’s Alice Walker, reading her poem “Hope is a Woman Who Has Lost Her Fear.”

Length: 
2:49
Heart graphic
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Poems can hold grief and mark loss. But what about love? Romantic love. Poet Li-Young Lee understands this completely. Because he’s in love.

Length: 
11:15
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Ken Nordine is the epitome of jazz poetry, nicknamed "the Voice." Best known for his "Word Jazz" series, this poem is one he did for a paint company. The paint company is long forgotten, but the poem lives on.

Length: 
1:35
letters
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Jimmy Santiago Baca was in a maximum security prison. He taught himself to read and fell in love with words. Today he’s a champion of the International Poetry Slam, and the author of multiple books of verse.

Length: 
13:39
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Last modified: 
April 13, 2020