Topic: Poetry

Tracy smith poet laureate

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.

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Bonnie and clyde

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.

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Dandelions in the field

ELA High School

A Flowering Tribute To Emily Dickinson

Poetry Agriculture American Literature Classics Writing Process Shaping Identity Conservation

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!).

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Hearts

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.

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The raven

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.

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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.

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Pexels photo 269810

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.

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ELA Middle School

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.

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ELA Middle School

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.

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Edgar allen poe 1898

ELA High School

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.

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Langston hughes 1936

ELA High School

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.

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Beowulf.firstpage

ELA High School

Low

'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.

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ELA High School

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.

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Brown girl dreaming

ELA Middle School

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.

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Seamus heaney

ELA High School

Poet Seamus Heaney

Poetry Biography

Seamus Heaney is considered one of Ireland’s greatest poets. He was prolific, writing 13 collections of poetry along with plays and books, and was the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. Heaney grew up in rural Ireland and later wrote about the political and cultural struggles of his country. This audio story remembers the life of Seamus Heaney, who died in 2013. A fellow poet, Robert Pinsky is interviewed and describes Heaney as a generous and decent person along with being a great writer. Listen to hear Pinsky read one of Heaney’s poems and discuss the qualities of his friend.

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798px dante domenico di michelino duomo florence

ELA High School

Translations of Dante's 'Divine Comedy'

Religion Literature Poetry World History I

Dante Alighieri finished writing the three-part epic poem “Divine Comedy” in 1321. The poem is written in three parts: hell, purgatory, and heaven. It follows one man on his journey through all three places. This great work of Italian literature has survived the ages and remains a classic today. There have been many translations of Dante’s work. This story interviews Clive James, the most recent English translator, as he talks about this epic poem and his translated version of “Divine Comedy.”

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1864 shakespeare stamp

ELA High School

The Real Story Behind Shakespeare's Sonnets

Poetry World History I Fiction Writing Romance

William Shakespeare wrote some of the most famous and recognizable love poems of all time, but some historians think that Shakespeare had no intention of publishing these private messages. His sonnets were largely biographical and it is believed they were written to another man. When a collection of these personal sonnets were published by a shady publisher named Thomas Thorpe, Shakespeare tried to stop their distribution. Listen to learn more about Shakespeare’s sonnets and their unwanted publication.

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ELA High School

Poetry Reflecting World War I

Poetry Writing World War I

When World War I ended on November 11, 1918 the world sighed with relief. The death and destruction of “The Great War” was over. In modern history the first World War is often overshadowed by the second, but its legacy of war poets cannot be overlooked. From soldiers in battle to people on the homefront, poetry was used to process and communicate the realities of war and loss. Listen to learn more about these poets and hear some of their works.

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T. s. eliot 1929

ELA High School

Modernist Poet T.S. Eliot

Poetry Biography Arts World War I

Thomas Stearns Eliot OM, best known as T.S. Eliot, was one of the great modernist poets of the 20th century. His work was part of a specific moment in history and art, before and after World War I, when identity, nations and art were fractured. Listen to learn more about the world in which Eliot wrote and why his poem “The Waste Land” remains one of the pillars of the high modernism movement.

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