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. Visually dazzling and archivally rich, each episode of the series is aligned and extended with digital resources for the classroom, book group, and home collection.
Directed by Professor Elisa New of Harvard University (and produced by her independent production company, Verse Video Education) and presented by WGBH Boston (America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web), the series includes an accompanying PBS LearningMedia collection.
- “I cannot dance opon my toes” by Emily Dickinson, featuring Cynthia Nixon, Marie Howe, Yo Yo Ma, Jill Johnson
- “Fast Break” by Edward Hirsch, featuring Shaquille O’Neal, Edward Hirsch, Shane Battier, Pau Gasol, and a chorus of pick-up basketball players
- “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden, featuring Joe Biden, Elizabeth Alexander, Angela Duckworth, and a chorus of working fathers and sons
- “Hymmnn” and “Hum Bom!” by Allen Ginsberg, featuring Bono, Juan Felipe Herrera, and a chorus of religious chant practitioners
- “Skyscraper” by Carl Sandburg, featuring Frank Gehry, Robert Polito, Zhang Xin, and a chorus of National Student Poets
- “Harlem” by Langston Hughes, featuring Herbie Hancock, Bill Clinton, Sonia Sanchez, and a chorus of kids at the Harlem Children’s Zone
- “Musée des Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden, featuring Samantha Power, Peter Sacks, David Brooks
- “Shirt” by Robert Pinsky, featuring Stuart Weitzman, Robert Pinsky, Betty Halbreich, Johnson Hartig, and students at Parsons School of Design
- “To Prisoners” by Gwendolyn Brooks, featuring Anna Deavere Smith, John McCain, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Li-Young Lee, and Innocence Project Exonerees
- “The Gray Heron” by Galway Kinnell, featuring E.O. Wilson, Robert Hass, Laura McPhee, and young naturalists at the Massachusetts Audubon Society
- “N.Y. State of Mind” by Nas, featuring Nas, Steve Stoute, Ben Horowitz, Salamishah Tillet, and a chorus of hip hop heads
- “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus, featuring Regina Spektor, Duy Doan, Randi Weingarten, David Rubenstein, and Cristina Jiménez
Poetry in America will air on public television stations nationwide beginning in April 2018.