Poetry in America
Poetry in America gathers distinguished interpreters from all walks of life to explore and debate 12 unforgettable American poems. Athletes, poets, politicians, musicians, architects, scientists, actors, entrepreneurs, and citizens of all ages join together with host and Harvard professor Elisa New to experience and share the power of poetry.
Edward Hirsch's poem "Fast Break" captures a single slow-motion play on a basketball court. In this video excerpted from Poetry in America, join Hirsch, host Elisa New, NBA players Shaquille O'Neal, Pau Gasol, and Shane Battier, and a group of pick-up basketball players as they use basketball to understand poetry—and poetry to better understand the game of basketball. Hirsch himself reveals how he shaped his couplets to represent offense and defense, teamwork and rivalry, enduring friendship and human mortality. Shaquille does the play by play, heading this episode's team of on-court interpreters who explore "Fast Break" as sport, art, and lens on human character. This resource is part of the Poetry in America Collection.
Although we think of a poem as something read from a book, poet Allen Ginsberg knew that poetry's power did not depend upon print, and he drew on the traditions of religious and ritual communities in writing verse that would elevate the spirit and knit together community. Joined by rock star Bono and US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, host Elisa New reads and explores Allen Ginsberg's anti-war chant "Hum Bom!" in this video excerpted from Poetry in America. This resource is part of the Poetry in America Collection.
Travel back to 1914 when Chicago's skyscrapers and Chicago's poets were defining modernist reach and audacity. In this video excerpted from Poetry in America, host Elisa New considers the rise of the skyscraper—and the emergence of the modernist poem—in an episode featuring celebrated architect Frank Gehry, Chinese visionary and real estate developer Zhang Xin, poet Robert Polito, and student poets from around the United States. And what about today? Can a building, as Sandburg asserts, have "soul," and who gives it that soul? This resource is part of the Poetry in America Collection.
Robert Hayden's sonnet "Those Winter Sundays" offers a meditation on the fraught love between fathers and sons. Conjuring Depression-era industrial Detroit and the struggles of early 20th-century African Americans, the poem's universality makes it one of the most beloved poems in the American canon. In this video excerpted from Poetry in America, Vice President Joe Biden, Inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander, psychologist Angela Duckworth, and host Elisa New join a chorus of working fathers and sons to reflect on Hayden's moving poem. This resource is part of the Poetry in America Collection.