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.
Current Event April 16, 2019
The Grand Canyon National Park recently celebrated its 100th birthday. A park ranger there created a “pop-up project,” placing an old typewriter on an overlook more than six miles into the canyon and inviting people to write notes reflecting on the moment. Listen to learn what inspired the project and hear some of the writing that hikers left behind.
Current Event October 20, 2017
Middle and high school students can spend a lot of time on their phones. Teens use technology to communicate and share information and a new study by the Pew Research Center finds this is helping teens be more creative and collaborative. But many teachers say students are taking shortcuts to writing and finding it difficult to understand longer material. Listen to this story and then debate: Does technology help or hurt writing skills?
The characters in our alphabet look the way they do and stand for their unique sounds for a reason. There are many stories behind the letters we use so often. The earliest forms of writing evolved because members of ancient civilizations needed more efficient ways to express themselves. Listen to this story to hear about the origins of individual letters, as well as learn about the connection between shape and meaning in our modern alphabet.
Writing college application essays can be stressful. Some companies are trying to help applicants through the process by analyzing essays of admitted students, gathering data, and offering targeted advice. But one college counselor cautions that sometimes, trying to follow these tips can lead students astray. Instead, she hopes that students will look to themselves for inspiration and write essays using their own voice. Listen to hear more about how students can stay true to themselves as they write college essays.
Writer Joyce Carol Oates is the successful author of more than 50 novels and even more works of non-fiction, poetry, plays and short stories. Her writing, known for its high quality, is filled with ideas, themes and subjects across multiple genres. Many readers and fans of her work are aware of the violent, dark nature of some of her stories, but may not realize that many of these themes are based on events she experienced in her early years. Oates shares these stories in her recent memoir, “The Lost Landscape.” Listen to hear Oates explore how her early life shaped her not only as a person, but as a writer.
Current Event August 14, 2015
Author John Green is called the Teen Whisperer. His novel, 'The Fault in our Stars,' has sold over a million copies and his young adult novels have huge numbers of fans. Green’s 2009 novel, 'Paper Town,' also focuses on the lives of teenagers and has been made into a movie. Listen to John Green and find out why he sees teenagers as inspirational.
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.
Author Jane Austen is well known for her novels that reflect on romance and the familial and cultural standards of late 18th century England. Some paint Austen as a drab spinster, but a new biography by Paula Byrne explores the real Austen through objects that were important to her in her life and literature. This portrait of an opinionated, fun loving Austen will help you understand her life, family and themes she revisits in her works.
William Shakespeare’s tragic romance of star crossed lovers, based on an Italian tale, graced stages in the 1590’s and continues to capture audiences and imagination today. Modern adaptations demonstrate the timelessness of this romantic tragedy. Juliet appeals so directly to people that they actually write to her! Listen to learn more about the Juliet Club and the 6,000 letters they receive a year.
American author and journalist Ernest Hemingway exemplified his literary style with novels like, “The Sun Also Rises,” “A Farewell to Arms,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea.” Hemingway’s adventurous life inspired these stories. From running with the bulls in Spain to fighting in World War II, Hemingway was a larger than life celebrity known for his machismo and literary skill. Hemingway’s talent was recognized with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. His writing style, which consists of short sentences that describe the external world, changed American literature forever.
Current Event November 29, 2014
When Jack Kerouac’s novel 'On the Road' was published in 1957 it shocked a generation of readers. The novel followed Kerouac’s travels and counterculture lifestyle. But it was the stream of consciousness style that set the literary world on its head and made it the anchor text for the Beat Generation. Kerouac didn’t always write this way; in fact his first novel didn’t have any spontaneous prose. What inspired Kerouac’s dramatic departure to stream of consciousness? Listen to learn more about his inspiration and the “holy grail of the Beat Generation.”
Current Event July 12, 2014
In 1855, American poet Walt Whitman published the first edition of “Leaves of Grass.” This poetry collection, which began as twelve poems, was written and re-written by Whitman throughout his life, with the final version containing 400 poems. The free verse poems present Whitman’s philosophy of life, from pleasure to the human mind and nature. Whitman explores and presents humanity through his poetry. Listen to learn why modern poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips recommends the Whitman collection and then interpret the poem “I Hear America Singing” for yourself.
Current Event December 7, 2013
The works of American author Mark Twain are widely studied, but the man behind this famous pen name is less understood. Samuel Clemens was born in a small Missouri town and through challenges, travels and adventures he became and created Mark Twain. This self-educated “border ruffian” became a successful and famous “Connecticut Yankee” by combining his life experiences, sense of humor and renowned writing talents. Listen to learn how the life of Samuel Clemens created the Mark Twain we know and love.
Current Event December 1, 2013
William Faulkner was a private man and a proud Southerner. He is considered by many to be a literary genius. Faulkner wrote frankly about the South, where he lived his entire life. His work brought him acclaim including a Nobel Prize and two Pulitzer Prizes. From 'The Sound and the Fury' to 'As I Lay Dying,' Faulkner took the reader into the mind of his characters by presenting distinct points of view and a stream of consciousness writing style. Learn more about this great American author by exploring his antebellum home in Oxford Mississippi.
Current Event November 25, 2013
Minimalist author Raymond Carver is known for his simple but powerful short stories of ordinary people. This gritty minimalism both reflects and contradicts the tough and chaotic life of the man himself. Listen to learn more about the life and contradictions of this American author heavily influenced by the work of Anton Chekhov.
Current Event November 19, 2013
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.
Current Event November 1, 2013
Winston Churchill, prime minister of Great Britain during World War II, was a master orator. His speeches were painstakingly written, meticulously planned and seamlessly delivered. Churchill was given a Nobel Prize in LIterature for his powerful speeches and his other written works. Listen to learn more about the speeches that Churchill wrote and delivered, and the effect they had on shaping World War II.
Current Event October 31, 2013
When World War I ended on November 11, 1918, the world was relieved. 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 home front, 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.