“I cannot dance opon my Toes – ” Emily Dickinson writes, “No Man instructed me.” Join host Elisa New, actor Cynthia Nixon, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, dancer and choreographer Jill Johnson, and poet Marie Howe in an exploration of the challenges of art and audience across time, space, and artistic medium.
Join poet Edward Hirsch, host Elisa New, NBA players Shaquille O’Neal, Pau Gasol, and Shane Battier, and a group of pick-up basketball players as they read Hirsch’s “Fast Break” and use basketball to understand poetry—and poetry to understand the game of basketball.
President Joe Biden, poet Elizabeth Alexander, and psychologist Angela Duckworth join host Elisa New and a chorus of fathers and sons to reflect on Robert Hayden’s moving poem “Those Winter Sundays.”
Joined by rock star Bono, former US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, and by a chorus of clergy and religious practitioners, host Elisa New tackles two of Ginsberg’s most emotionally transporting poems, the “Hymmnn” from Kaddish, and the anti-war chant “Hum Bom!”
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.
President Bill Clinton, pianist and composer Herbie Hancock, poet Sonia Sanchez, and students from the Harlem Children’s Zone interpret Langston Hughes’s most iconic poem, “Harlem,” with series host Elisa New.
Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, journalist and ethicist David Brooks, and poet, professor, and painter Peter Sacks join Elisa New to ponder W.H. Auden’s World War II-era reflection on suffering: “Musée des Beaux Arts.”
At New York Fashion Week, host Elisa New catches up with fashion designer Johnson Hartig, Bergdorf Goodman’s Betty Halbreich, shoe designer Stuart Weitzman and with fashion and poetry students from the New School to discuss Robert Pinsky’s poem on labor, craft, and the threads that connect us. Back in Boston, Robert Pinsky joins New on camera to reflect on his poem.
Senator John McCain, playwright and activist Anna Deavere Smith, poets Reginald Dwayne Betts and Li-Young Lee, and four exonerated prisoners discuss poetry’s special resonance for those behind bars.
In this environmentally-themed, visually splendid episode, Elisa New is joined by evolutionary biologist E.O Wilson, poet Robert Hass, environmental photographer Laura McPhee, naturalist Joel Wagner, and children at a Mass Audubon Society summer camp on Cape Cod in a wide ranging discussion of Galway Kinnell’s “The Gray Heron.”
Learn alongside host Elisa New as hip hop artist, Nas, music executive Steve Stoute, scholar Salamishah Tillett, and a chorus of rappers and fans break down the breakbeats–and explore the searing vision–of Nas’s iconic track “N.Y. State of Mind.”
Host Elisa New rediscovers the freshness and the still-potent charge of Emma Lazarus’s iconic sonnet of immigration alongside singer-songwriter Regina Spektor, activist and co-founder of United We Dream Cristina Jiménez, President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten, financier and philanthropist David Rubenstein, and poet Duy Doan.
Harlem by Langston Hughes
Fast Break by Edward Hirsch
Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden
In April 2018, the inaugural season of Poetry in America premiered during National Poetry Month. Emerging out of Professor New’s experience creating multimedia educational content at Harvard Extension School, the twelve episodes in Season One cut a wide swath through the history of American poetry, from Auden’s famous meditation on suffering, to Ginsberg at his most off-beat, to Nas’s precocious debut.
Season One guests include President Biden, Nas, Herbie Hancock, President Clinton, Sonia Sanchez, Cynthia Nixon, Bono, Frank Gehry, Senator John McCain, Regina Spektor, and Yo-Yo Ma discussing works by W.H. Auden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Emily Dickinson, Allen Ginberg, Robert Hayden, Edward Hirsch, Langston Hughes, Galway Kinnell, Emma Lazarus, Nas, Robert Pinsky, and Carl Sandburg,
Interested in learning more? Poetry in America offers a wide range of courses, all dedicated to bringing poetry into classrooms and living rooms around the world. Check out our course offerings
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Additional support for season one provided by:Deborah Hayes Stone & Max StoneNancy Zimmerman