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A collection of field recordings by a wide range of award-winning contemporary poets. Each poet reads a singular American poem of his or her choosing, and also speaks to how the poem connects, deepens, or re-imagines our sense of the nation. The feature includes a print version of the poem to complement the recording, as well as a piece by the participating poet.

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Recently Added Poetry of America Recordings

Elizabeth Willis reads and discusses Lisa Jarnot’s “The Bridge” - new

Elizabeth WillisLisa Jarnot

“I think ‘The Bridge’ is saying something about American identity and what it means to be an individual within a work in progress, which is what any nation or coalition or relationship is, and what it means to be an artist in this culture, fully alive to the complexities and disappointments and possibilities of what that might mean.”

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Linda Gregerson reads and discusses Muriel Rukeyser’s “Poem Out of Childhood” - new

Patricia Spears JonesGwendolyn Brooks

“Rukeyser was fierce in her insistence that the world was one: a tsunami born in Asia moves across the waters to North America; a shooting in Sarajevo means slaughtered millions from the Caucasus to France; the dividends paid to pensioners by Union Carbide are just a little larger because miners in West Virginia have been allowed to die of silicosis.”

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Patricia Spears Jones reads and discusses Gwendolyn Brooks’ “my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell”

Patricia Spears JonesGwendolyn Brooks

“Gwendolyn Brooks . . . represents what American poets should continue to be like. She worked on her craft, she deeply cared about the ways in which the ideals of this nation rarely served its citizens, and her work demanded that we attend to those ideals and create the environment to make them real.”

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Juan Felipe Herrera reads and discusses Denise Levertov’s “Making Peace”

Juan Felipe HerreraDenise Levertov

“I’ve always loved Denise Levertov—her writing, her position as a poet, her relentless giving of her poems to the people . . . she responds to a bigger picture.”

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Mary Jo Salter reads and discusses Richard Wilbur's "A Plain Song for Comadre"

Mary Jo SalterRichard Wilbur

“The poem’s first journal appearance was in Poetry in February 1954, half a year before I was born, and it was then collected in Wilbur’s third book, Things of This World, in 1956. I don’t think a single year has gone by in the last forty when I haven’t read it at least two or three times, or discovered a few lines from it echoing in my head—particularly ‘It is seventeen years /Come tomorrow //That Bruna Sandoval has kept the church /Of San Ysidro…’”

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Peter Gizzi reads and discusses James Schuyler’s “February”

Peter GizziJames Schuyler

“There’s a deeper cold behind the ‘gold and chilly’ weather as he chronicles a major American city from his window. We see beauty and power twinned, ‘the UN building on big evenings,’ and ‘the green leaves of the tulips on my desk like grass light on flesh.’”

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Sally Keith reads and discusses Ellen Bryant Voigt’s “Owl”

Sally KeithEllen Bryant Voigt

“It is the complexity of the innovation in combination with the tender humanity which makes me feel the poem as American.”

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Carol Muske-Dukes reads and discusses Jon Anderson’s “Rosebud”

Carol Muske-DukesJon Anderson

“This poem is about history and identity in that it is about, as Jon Anderson says, the ‘last important victory’ of the tribes, for the tribes, and also about living in history.”

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Diane Seuss reads and discusses Emily Dickinson’s “508 (I’m ceded — I’ve stopped being Theirs —)”

Diane SeussEmily Dickenson

“Still, yet, for a woman writing from the middle of the 1800s, a woman who rarely ventured from her father’s house, the self-claiming in this and so many of her poems is extraordinary, and strikes me as quintessentially American, at least as Americans dream themselves to be.”

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Afaa Michael Weaver reads and discusses Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “Little Brown Baby”

Afaa Michael WeaverPaul Laurence Dunbar

“. . . in this particular poem, I find the treasure of the love of the father for the child, and I think of African American men and their evolution as men in the context of the racial history of this country.”

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