National Poetry Month at TTBOOK

March 27, 2017
poem is a person

Lee Scott (CC0)

Throughout the month of April, To the Best of Our Knowledge will celebrate poetry with a unique take on how we can use the form to process the world around us, and to establish a sense of place and identity in that world. 

April 2: The Poem is You

In this hour, we see how poetry can show us new ways to think about place and personal identity. Poetry is a powerful tool for crafting identity —as we find in the verse of Ojibwe hip-hop artist Tall Paul. It can also help us understand the places we live —as in Carl Sandburg’s Chicago poems. And Quan Barry kicks off National Poetry Month with a new series, “The News From Poems,” featuring original poems by five major poets that reflect on the anxieties raised by current events. 

The hour features:

  • Quan Barry—University of Wisconsin-Madison English professor, poet and novelist recently started a year-long project writing one poem a week that responds and reacts to the news of the day.

  • Stephen Burt—Harvard English professor and leading poetry critic on how being a cross-dresser helped him expand the canon through his new anthology, “The Poem is You.”

  • Tall Paul—A member of the Leech Lake Band of the the Ojibwe, in Northern Minnesota, finds a deeper sense of identity by rapping in the Ojibwe language.Ojibwe, in Northern Minnesota, finds a deeper sense of identity by rapping in the Ojibwe language.

  • David Nagler—Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of Sandburg’s Chicago Poems through music with Jeff Tweedy, Sally Timms and Jon Langford.


The News from Poems

For all of National Poetry Month, TTBOOK is partnering with Quan Barry to bring listeners “The News from Poems.”  Each week, TTBOOK will release a podcast featuring a reading of a freshly-written poem from a leading American poet, composed in response to the month’s news. We’ll also hear host Anne Strainchamps interview each poet about the personal stories behind the poems.

  • April 2: Quan Barry kicks off the series with her poem, “Inaugural” and introduces our “News From Poems” project. Barry is a poet and novelist. Born in Saigon and raised on the north shore of Boston, she is the author of numerous poetry collections, as well as the novel “She Weeps Each Time You’re Born.”  She is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  In 2017, she founded the online poetry project Asphodel: The News from Poems.

  • April 9: Fady Joudah is a poet, translator, and physician. The son of Palestinian refugees, he was born in Austin, Texas, grew up in Libya and Saudi Arabia, and was educated in the U.S.  Joudah’s debut collection of poetry, “The Earth in the Attic,” won the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition.  He lives in Houston, where he is a practicing physician.

  • April 16: Nick Lantz is a poet and playwright, author of four award-winning books of poetry. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky selected his collection, “The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors’ House,” for the Felix Pollack Prize.  Lantz teaches English at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX and edits Texas Review.  He also spent one year writing daily 140-character poems on Twitter.  

  • April 23: Laura Kasischke won the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for her poetry collection “Space, In Chains” . She has written nine books of poetry, as well as ten novels, three of which have been made into films:Suspicious River, The Life Before Her Eyes” and “White Bird in a Blizzard.”  Kasischke is a literary celebrity in France, where her work is featured prominently on best-seller lists.  

  • April 30: Richard Blanco is the fifth Inaugural Poet of the United States as well as the first Latino, first immigrant, first openly gay, and the youngest person to hold the position. He grew up Cuban-American in Miami.  He’s the author of three award-winning poetry collections and a memoir, “The Prince of Los Cocuyos.”   In 2013, he published two chapbooks: “One Today,” his poem for Barack Obama’s inauguration, and “Boston Strong,” commemorating the Boston Marathon bombing. 



I have searched in vain for the Richard Blanco poem that he wrote for last week's edition. I think the name was "November Morning". Could you help me? I would love to have a copy of it.
Thank you

Thank you TTBOOK for exploring the idea of the arts reacting to our current political situation. I pitched a story much like this to a local magazine, only focusing on musicians instead of poets, and I was told my idea was "too abstract" and "liberal artsy." It's so refreshing to see TTBOOK exploring ideas that are deeper and more creative than tidy, beat journalism.