Topic: Poetry

Current Event April 23, 2020

Poetic Surprises

Poetry education Creative Writing

In celebration of National Poetry Month, NPR invites poets to reflect upon selected poems submitted by listeners. In this story, award-winning poet and teacher Nikky Finney discusses poems that surprise her and explains why she finds them beautiful, meaningful, and thought-provoking. Listen to hear how Finney began her poetry career and how she advises her students to engage in expressing themselves through poetry.

Read More

Current Event April 7, 2020

Poetry Out Loud

Poetry

High school students recited poems with dramatic flair in the semi-finals of the national Poetry Out Loud contest. Competitors recited works by Toi Derricotte, Vijay Shishadri, and other poets, and their performances were judged on a variety of criteria. Listen to hear clips of high school competitors reciting poems and learn how the rules have changed for non-citizens hoping to enter the competition.

Update: Since this story originally aired, Minnesota high school senior Isabella Callery was selected as the 2019 Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

Read More

Current Event February 11, 2020

Love Poems from Kids

Education Poetry Creative Writing

Poetry allows writers to express deep thoughts and feelings. In the classroom, it can strengthen bonds between teachers and students by helping them get to know each other better. For Valentine’s Day, poet Kwame Alexander asked teachers around the country to challenge their students to write poems about love. Listen to hear the whimsical, poetic, and practical responses of students of all ages to the prompt, “Love is…”

Read More

Current Event August 22, 2019

Haiku about Summer

Culture Poetry Arts

Haiku is a Japanese form of poetry. These short poems traditionally describe impressions of nature. Haiku are quite popular among poets with a wide range of experience. Listen to hear some examples of modern haiku-inspired poetry and find out why one author says, “if you want to write something perfect, write a haiku.”

Read More

ELA

Poetry for the Digital Age

Poetry Writing

Each year for National Poetry Month, NPR invites listeners to submit original poems. The only constraint is that the poems must follow a format suitable for Twitter–280 characters or fewer. These bite-sized verses often prove interesting, complex, and thought-provoking. Listen to this story to hear poet Jessica Care Moore select and read some of her favorite tweet-length poems and share her reactions to them.

Read More

Current Event April 25, 2019

Connecting through Poetry

Politics Culture Poetry

U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith has a new podcast called “The Slowdown,” in which she reads and reflects on a poem by a different poet each weekday. In the podcast, she shares personal thoughts and experiences related to themes that the poems address. Listen to this interview with Smith to learn how she thinks poetry can help people listen to and connect with each other, even across cultural and political divides.

Read More

Current Event April 11, 2019

Bonnie & Clyde Poetry

Culture Law Poetry U.S. History

Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were notorious gangsters during the Great Depression. The Barrow gang robbed banks and stores, led prison breaks, engaged in gunfights, and were constantly on the run from the law until they died in a shootout in their 20s. Surprisingly, Bonnie and Clyde also wrote poetry, and their original poems were recently put up for auction, along with some photographs. Listen to hear excerpts of their poetry and reflections on what it reveals about the legendary criminals.

Read More

ELA

A Flowering Tribute To Emily Dickinson

Poetry Agriculture American Literature Conservation Classics Writing Process Shaping Identity

The New York Botanical Garden created an exhibit to honor Emily Dickinson. She was a nineteenth-century American poet who wrote unique verses, often about the nature of life and death. The new exhibit celebrates her hobbies, family, and experiences from a surprising perspective. Listen to learn what Dickinson was actually known for in her lifetime (hint: it’s not poetry!).

Read More

Current Event February 12, 2019

What Is Love?

Literature Poetry

Love is a universal human emotion that brings us joy, focuses our priorities, and helps us face the challenges in our lives. The experience of love has inspired many poets to write about what drives it and how it affects us. Poet Kwame Alexander reflects on his love for his children and invites students to write about what love means to them. Listen to this interview with Alexander, who reads poetry about love and discusses why this powerful feeling keeps people connected, engaged, and motivated.

Read More

Current Event October 25, 2018

The Dark Reputation of Ravens

Poetry Horror Mythology Gothic

Ravens have long had a reputation for being spooky in literature and popular culture. Featured in Greek myths, Native American tales, and a famous poem by Edgar Allan Poe, the raven is frequently associated with darkness. However, many people are not aware how intelligent these feathered creatures are. Ravens communicate with and learn from each other, and they behave in ways that often bear little resemblance to how they are represented in literature. Listen to learn the real story behind what makes ravens special.

Read More

Current Event April 12, 2018

Celebrating Poetry

Poetry

April is National Poetry Month. To kick off the month, professor and U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, discusses writing poetry and what inspires her. She believes poetry helps us be more introspective, especially in this era of information overload with technology. Listen to hear more about poetry and writing from this Poet Laureate.

Read More

Current Event March 20, 2018

Poet Gwendolyn Brooks Inspired Young Poets

Gender Poetry

Gwendolyn Brooks was the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950. Her poetry and writing was well known by many African-Americans who read a paper called the Chicago Defender. After winning the Pulitzer Prize, her writing became known by white people as well. She influenced and inspired other writers such as Toni Morrison, and funded programs and prizes to encourage people to write poetry. Listen to this story about the life of Gwendolyn Brooks.

Read More

ELA

A Letter from Phillis Wheatley

Race Gender Poetry American Revolution

Phillis Wheatley was the first black poet in the United States. Born in Senegal, Wheatley was taken to Boston, Massachusetts, as a slave. Since she was too weak for manual labor, Wheatley was taught to read and write instead. She published her first poem in 1767. A two-page letter by Wheatley, previously unpublished, was recently auctioned. Listen to learn more about Phillis Wheatley, the contents of this letter, and why it is so significant to scholars, historians, and collectors.

Read More

ELA

Edgar Allan Poe's Mysterious "Raven"

Poetry American Literature

Author Edgar Allan Poe was a master of the creepy and macabre, with a focus on death and grim topics. His famous poem, “The Raven,” concerns a heartbroken man who is visited by a talking raven who begins to drive him mad. Despite the poem’s fame, including its catch phrase “Nevermore,” fans and historians are not sure what inspired Poe or how he wrote the poem.

Read More

ELA

Edgar Allan Poe Still Captures the Imagination

Poetry Horror Mystery

Edgar Allan Poe, poet and American master of the macabre, was recently celebrated in Baltimore, Maryland where he sometimes lived. It was the 200th anniversary of his birth, and it was celebrated with readings of his works. Hear from actor John Astin, who played Gomez Addams in a television series, about his lifetime appreciation for Poe. Listen to find out why Baltimore played such an integral part in Poe’s life, and what types of items are left at his grave each year.

Read More

ELA

The Life of Langston Hughes

Race Poetry

Langston Hughes, an African American writer who lived and wrote during the first half of the 20th century, remains one of the most celebrated writers in American history. He was a social activist, novelist, playwright, columnist and leader of the Harlem Renaissance. In this story, a woman is pleasantly surprised to find one of his poems among her granddaughter’s school papers. She shares with her granddaughter the many things she admired about Hughes, and the many reasons he was such an influential poet and person during his time. She speaks about Hughes’s early life, his travels, and his lyrical poetry. Listen to learn more about this famous poet, who continues to inspire younger generations today.

Read More

ELA

'Beowulf,' Paganism and Christianity

Religion Poetry

"Beowulf" is the oldest surviving long poem in Old English. It tells the story of a 5th century Nordic warrior who defeats monsters and becomes a king. In 2000, the Irish poet Seamus Heaney released a celebrated new translation of the epic poem. In this interview, Heaney discusses “Beowulf” and his approach to translating this famous text. Listen to learn more about “Beowulf’s” lasting appeal, and what the old poem tells us about Nordic pagan and early Christian values.

Read More

ELA

Reflecting on Toni Morrison

Poetry American Literature

Toni Morrison, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature, believes in addressing reality in her writing, no matter how painful. In this audio story, she reflects on writing about unfortunate truths, such as racism. Morrison’s stories are full of complicated characters and interesting dialogue while portraying harsh realities. Listen to hear Morrison reflect on the realities of racism today and learn what Morrison's writing means to one admirer who values Morrison's talent for storytelling.

Read More

ELA

Author's Experiences Led to 'Brown Girl Dreaming'

Poetry Memoir Narrative

Jacqueline Woodson’s free verse memoir, "Brown Girl Dreaming," won the National Book Award in 2014. Woodson has published 30 books and won three Newbery Honor Medals. This book explores different perspectives in a desegregating America. In this interview, Woodson talks about her experience of segregation of race and religion, and how her experiences are often similar to students who she talks with today. She talks about the need for more diverse literature in schools, along with her book being appropriate for a wider audience-- not only brown students. Listen to hear her discuss how she integrates her personal experiences into her writing.

Read More