Poetry in America on KPBS

Poetry in America host Elisa New was interviewed by Midday Edition’s Jade Hindmon for KPBS, San Diego’s local PBS and NPR affiliate. The interview aired March 28th, 2024 and was subsequently released as a podcast.

People have their own ideas of what a poem is. Some people think a poem is something you hear spoken by a person full of passion on a stage. Another person will say, ‘A poem is something you read in school that’s incredibly boring and obscure.’ A third will say: ‘A poem is what we read at a funeral.’ What I try to do in this series is, episode by episode, to show you many, many different things that a poem can be.

Elisa New

Timed to Professor New’s panel on “Mending Wall” at the Robert Frost Sesquicentennial celebration at San Diego Public Library, the interview covered subjects ranging from American ideals to the fungal kingdom. 

We don’t want ponderous, didactic talking heads telling you what to think is wonderful about this poem. Instead, I want to learn from these guests all the things that a particular word might mean. And it’s beautiful. We do convey in the series how, when Bill Clinton and a fourth grader say exactly the same thing in exactly the same words, that that’s astounding. But it’s really wonderful when two interpreters either disagree or see quite different things. And the experience of seeing that develop is incredibly moving to me. And we try to share that.

Elisa New