poetry

Poetry: Give It a Try

Apr 20, 2016
Michael Chen / Creative Commons

Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petry wrote a column a few years ago asking if poetry was still vital enough to change anything. Poets and poetry lovers reacted strongly, sending recommendations to enlighten her and encourage her to "get out more." Petry says that column haunts her more than anything she’s ever written, enough to follow it up with a defense - and an olive branch.

Chuck Kramer / flickr creative commons

And after 15 seasons and 555 episodes and more than 345 Billboard chart toppers, "American Idol" is done with us. Love it or hate it, the show changed the American television business, the American reality television business, the American music business. It gave us Jennifer Hudson and Kelly Clarkson and Ryan Seacrest. And it gave us Taylor Hicks and William Hung. And Ryan Seacrest. We unpack the whole thing, the good and the bad.

Before she was a writer, Sara Baume set out to be a visual artist.

"First and foremost I see; I see the world and then I describe it ..." she says. "I don't know another way to write. I always anchor everything in an image."

Baume's process works — a review in The Irish Times called her debut novel a "stunning and wonderful achievement by a writer touched by greatness."

Baume loves words, and she loves fitting words together so they flow like poetry.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Ficre Ghebreyesus and Elizabeth Alexander were born two months apart in 1962, he in Eritrea, she in Harlem. They didn’t meet until 1996. He was an artist and a chef at a New Haven Eritrean restaurant he owned with his brothers. She was a poet and professor. She had been teaching at the University of Chicago, where she had also met a senior lecturer named Barack Obama. She married Ghebreyesus. She delivered Obama’s 2009 inaugural poem. In 2012, a few days after her husband’s 50th birthday, he died abruptly. Her new book, “The Light of The World,” tells that story.

Walking With Dante

Dec 9, 2015
Freeparking / Creative Commons

"Dante's Inferno" is the most famous section of "The Divine Comedy," poet Dante Aligheri's, 14,000 line epic poem. It's where Dante must face his sins before moving beyond an eternity in hell, where the doomed can still find redemption in the acceptance of their humanity. 

Roman Castellanos-Monfil / Yale University

Yale University senior Emi Mahmoud is the winner of this year's Individual World Poetry Slam Championship.

The Huntington / Creative Commons

I could have called myself a Stradivarius,

for though I, of course, was just an ordinary violin, waiting,

ready to be held for the first time in a musician’s hands,

primed to be played,

mobilized by all my busy genes

to become music –

when first I felt the quiver

of its stirring sound,

I became, imparadised,

the most priceless stringed instrument

on the face of the earth. 

Walking With Dante

Sep 28, 2015
Freeparking :-I / Creative Commons

"Dante's Inferno" is the most famous section of Dante Aligheri's 14,000 line epic poem, The Divine Comedy. But it's only the first part of Dante's long pilgrimage through the afterlife. He first enters the circles of hell, filled with beasts and sinners doomed to the Inferno for crimes like gluttony, lust, and treason. 

Which Writers Get Museums?

Jul 7, 2015
Flickr Creative Commons

Mark Twain has many literary sites; yet Henry James has none. You can visit Edith Wharton's house but not Shirley Jackson's. You can walk where Wallace Stevens walked but you can't buy a ticket to go through his front door. And can you believe there's no single museum devoted to all American writers-- yet?

New England is about to get two great new writers’ museums: The Dr. Seuss museum in Springfield, Massachusetts and-- if we're lucky-- the Maurice Sendak Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Today we look at who gets a writer's house and why-- and what sort of experience we’re looking for when we make pilgrimages to the desks of our literary heroes.

A. Vincent Scarano

New London's Hygienic Art opens a new multimedia exhibit Friday night. 

Karyl Evans Productions/Facebook

The late John Meneely Jr., a Yale Medical School graduate, struggled to rebuild his life after returning home from World War II. His daughters have created an oratorio to commemorate their father, and the making of that oratorio is the subject of a new documentary called Letter from Italy 1944: A New American Oratorio, narrated by Meryl Streep. It airs this Thursday, June 18th, at 8pm on CPTV. We talk with the film’s director, Karyl Evans.

Poetry readers, prepare yourselves for a passing of the laurels. The Library of Congress announced in the wee hours Wednesday that the next U.S. poet laureate will be California writer Juan Felipe Herrera. He will be the first Latino poet to be appointed to the position.

"This is a mega-honor for me," Herrera said in the announcement, "for my family and my parents who came up north before and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 — the honor is bigger than me."

Which Writers Get Museums?

Apr 30, 2015
Creative Commons

Mark Twain has many literary sites; yet Henry James has none. You can visit Edith Wharton's house but not Shirley Jackson's. You can walk where Wallace Stevens walked but you can't buy a ticket to go through his front door. And can you believe there's no single museum devoted to all American writers-- yet?

New England is about to get two great new writers’ museums: The Dr. Seuss museum in Springfield, Massachusetts and-- if we're lucky-- the Maurice Sendak Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Today we look at who gets a writer's house and why-- and what sort of experience we’re looking for when we make pilgrimages to the desks of our literary heroes.

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Ficre Ghebreyesus and Elizabeth Alexander were born two months apart in 1962, he in Eritrea, she in Harlem. They didn’t meet until 1996. He was an artist and a chef at a New Haven Eritrean restaurant he owned with his brothers. She was a poet and professor. She had been teaching at the University of Chicago, where she had also met a senior lecturer named Barack Obama. She married Ghebreyesus. She delivered Obama’s 2009 inaugural poem. In 2012, a few days after her husband’s 50th birthday, he died abruptly. Her new book, “The Light of The World,” tells that story.

Anthony Quintano / Creative Commons

Calling in to WNPR's Where We Live on Tuesday, Michael from Middletown shared a poem he wrote in honor of Blizzard 2015. 

Fire: Sparking Imagination Since Two Million B.C.

Jan 14, 2015
BriSaEr / Flickr Creative Commons

Things burn: Our environments, resources, and all forms of monument to self. And since the beginning, so too has our imagination. The inspiration humans have drawn from fire throughout the millennia is as impressive as it is immeasurable. Why fire occupies such an elemental place in the creative wellsprings of our consciousness is certainly a debate to had.

Donkey Hotey / Creative Commons

Okay, I'm warning you. You're going to have to adjust the band on your thinking cap. Christian Bok, our first guest, is an experimental poet with some fascinating ideas, some of which will strike you as unfamiliar and maybe dissimilar to any other ideas you ever heard. In a nutshell, Bok is part of a small movement of thinkers and writers who want to revolutionize the way literature is produced, stored and consumed. For example, Bok has spent years trying to encode  a poem into the DNA of a bacterium able to survive extreme conditions, like vacuums.

Where Have All The Poets Gone?

Sep 5, 2014

For centuries, poets were the mouthpieces railing loudly against injustice. They gave voice to the hardships and evils facing people everywhere. From Langston Hughes to Jack Kerouac and Federico García Lorca — so many — verse once served as a vehicle for expressing social and political dissent. There was fervor, there was anger. And it was embraced: See, there was a time when the poetry of the day carried with it the power of newspapers and radio programs. It was effective, even as it was overtly political. What has happened?

En Garde!

Jun 23, 2014
Abhijit Shylanath / Creative Commons

This saber was forged in the town of New Britain to end you!
Put down your pistol and draw your sword. Any man can shoot
but do you have skill? Do you not have the will to clash such
fine steel? Put down your pistol coward! I will make you kneel
before me... Have you no honor? Valor? You'd rather flick a
finger than allow your blade to linger in the heart chambers of
your rivals?

Me, Sparky, and Little Barbara Jean

Jun 23, 2014
DeeAshley / Creative Commons

It's senior privilege, we get to sit on the rickety bridge
by the football field and smoke Viceroys after lunch.
It's fun bein' queenie and all; Dad always said
I had the prettiest peepers from here to Harrison.

New England Cowboy

Jun 23, 2014
Charles Henry / Creative Commons

Cue tumbleweed.
Dust kicked up from his snakeskin boots catches to the northbound gale
He straddles the barren road; a stance ready to draw
He practices 1, 2, 3 gunshots just because he can
The sheriffs peer tentatively behind blinds
He holsters his Peacemaker, a Colt .45

Fragment Skyline

Jun 4, 2014
Stephanie Nobert / New Britain Industrial Museum

Off target planes de-throttle
to re-smelt the Russwin doorknobs,
     their tired steel.

Hands that once embraced such metal--
turning points from halls to
windowed rooms -- have fallen with the rubble.

Not to hold a single door.
     To lay in wreckage.

Knobs detached to form no entries.
Moans from under cinder yearn in unison,
stretch for the door to another side.

They char from jet fuel flames,
     they smolder...

plane-shattered sun and buildings.

Revelation

Jun 3, 2014
Bureau of Land Management / Creative Commons

His T-shirt says, “I am God”.
I think - My lucky day!
I’ll run over,
shake his hand,
ask for an autograph.
I might never have this chance again.

katsrcool / Creative Commons

after a line from Haruki Murakami

The Cause

Jun 3, 2014
brankomaster / Creative Commons

When you jump off a bandwagon, it rolls on
toward the cities’ high places,
and you’re left without music on an empty road,

nothing to guide you. Not even the moon
drenches each milepost. No joyous faces
when you jump off a bandwagon. It rolls on,

its pipers shrill, its drummers too loud,
yet you listen: thick notes, then thin traces
and you’re left without music on an empty road.

Just you versus you—your pro, your con,
your rabbits in hats, your sleeves, your aces
when you jump off. A bandwagon? It rolls on.

Paul Kline / Creative Commons

When I see starlight I marvel
the thousands of years it traveled
to meet me, before I was even
conceived, and think myself
a sort of time vector—a very
short one—in the midst of lines
that stretch along farther than I
can imagine. Behind me are things
evolving which that star’s light
is on its way toward, and each will
know itself the final destination—
though the light threads itself
through them like a needlepoint:
stitches them and me together
in contemplation of an image
of the past. Tell me, human,

The Space Traveler and Wandering

Jun 3, 2014
Sweetie187 / Creative Commons

I didn’t always wander. Once,
I had a small home with a garden.
A planet dweller lived there,
and we had the local equivalent
of a dog. It’s hard to say
what happened, but at some point
I found myself converting parts
of our bungalow into a ship.
First appliances: fridge, stove,
electric tooth brush and water pick.
Then larger pieces. Siding
for the rocket body; chimney
for part of the nose cone.
Right now, I’m entering coordinates
into a combination of water heater
and wet bar. Both of us knew

Saying Goodbye at the Nursing Home

Jun 3, 2014
Ari Bakker / Creative Commons

My meeting can’t wait
so I’ve kissed the top of your head,
both cheeks
and like the Eskimos do.

Isla Providencia

Jun 3, 2014
Ana Rodríguez Carrington / Creative Commons

From his final trip to Providencia
I asked my grandfather to bring back
a piece of the island, so he wrapped

a conch shell with three towels, deep
in his suitcase among plastic jars
jammed with stewed plums and orange rinds.

Cashel Man

Jun 3, 2014
TechnoHippyBiker / Creative Commons

Cashel, Ireland, 2,000 B.C.

In ancient Ireland, bogs were sacred
areas; a cool wetland mirage meters
deep of peat during demoralizing
drought. Greenish-brown landscape
of mystery, insufferably slow plant
growth. What must a farmer have
thought as his wife offered a vessel
of golden butter to appease a merciless
deity? He plunges his hand deep into
the bog, brings a handful of drenched
soil to his eyes, squeezes and watches
as his hairy forearms stain a deep rust.

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