Poetry In America

The 12-part series POETRY IN AMERICA draws students of all ages into conversations about poetry. Hosted by Harvard University professor Elisa New, each half-hour episode highlights the work of one distinguished poet (Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks) with a reading by an individual well known for accomplishments outside the humanities (actress and playwright Anna Deavere Smith, Grammy-Award winner Herbie Hancock; former vice president Joe Biden, and rapper/poet Nas), as well as a chorus of others, including: a chorus of pick-up basketball players, young naturalists at the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and students at the Parsons School of Design. The fast-moving, beautifully shot series offers viewers a fully immersive experience in hearing, reading, and interpreting a single American poem. Scholar Elisa New opens a conversation about poetry and encourages viewers at home to extend the discussion past the episode's end.

Fri, Sep 11 2:00 P.M. Skyscraper - Carl Sandburg     NH WORLD

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.

Fri, Sep 11 2:30 P.M. The Gray Heron - Galway Kinnell     NH WORLD

In this environmentally-themed, visually splendid episode, Elisa New is joined by evolutionary biologist E.

Fri, Sep 18 2:00 P.M. I Cannot Dance Upon My Toes - Emily Dickinson     NH WORLD

"I cannot dance upon my toes," Emily Dickinson writes -- "no man instructed me.

Fri, Sep 18 2:30 P.M. The Fish - Marianne Moore     NH WORLD

This environmental science-themed episode explores Marianne Moore's great poem of marine life, "The Fish.


Watch Poetry In America - Clips, Episodes & Previews


Poetry In America By Episode

  • I Cannot Dance Upon My Toes - Emily Dickinson (#101)

    "I cannot dance upon my toes," Emily Dickinson writes -- "no man instructed me.

  • Fast Break - Edward Hirsch (#102)

    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.

  • Those Winter Sundays - Robert Hayden (#103)

    Vice President Joe Biden, Inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander, and psychologist Angela Duckworth join host Elisa New and a chorus of working fathers and sons to reflect on Robert Hayden's moving poem "Those Winter Sundays.

  • Hymmnn and Hum Bom - Allen Ginsberg (#104)

    Joined by rock star Bono, 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.

  • Skyscraper - Carl Sandburg (#105)

    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.

  • Harlem - Langston Hughes (#106)

    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.

  • Musee Des Beaux Arts - W.H. Auden (#107)

    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.

  • Shirt - Robert Pinsky (#108)

    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.

  • To Prisoners - Gwendolyn Brooks (#109)

    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.

  • The Gray Heron - Galway Kinnell (#110)

    In this environmentally-themed, visually splendid episode, Elisa New is joined by evolutionary biologist E.

  • New York State of Mind - Nas (#111)

    Learn alongside host Elisa New as hip hop artist Nas, music executive Steve Stoute, scholar Salamishah Tillet, and a chorus of rappers and fans break down the breakbeats and explore the searing vision of Nas's iconic track "NY State of Mind.

  • The New Colossus - Emma Lazarus (#112)

    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 founder of the United We Dream Foundation Cristina Jimenez, President of the American Federation of Teachers Randi Weingarten, financier and philanthropist David Rubenstein, and poet Duy Doan.

  • Urban Love Poem - Marilyn Chin (#201)

    Explore San Francisco's history--from the Gold Rush and early Chinese immigration to the rise of Silicon Valley--through Marilyn Chin's poem of her San Francisco youth.

  • One Art - Elizabeth Bishop (#202)

    "The art of losing isn't hard to master," Elizabeth Bishop wrote in her poem "One Art," universally considered one of her greatest.

  • The Fish - Marianne Moore (#203)

    This environmental science-themed episode explores Marianne Moore's great poem of marine life, "The Fish.

  • This Your Home Now - Mark Doty (#204)

    Series creator Elisa New talks with poet Mark Doty, psychologist Steven Pinker, choreographer Bill T.

  • Finishing The Hat - Stephen Sondheim (#205)

    Stephen Sondheim is widely hailed as the greatest modern American musical theater composer.

  • You and I Are Disappearing - Yusef Komunyakaa (#206)

    Yusef Komunyakaa went to Vietnam as a journalist but he came home a poet.

  • "This Is Just to Say" - William Carlos Williams (#207)

    Just 28 words and mimicking the form of a refrigerator note, is "This is Just to Say" simply the short apology it pretends to be, or something more subtle and passive-aggressive? Join actor John Hodgman, poet and physician Rafael Campo, poet Jane Hirshfield, a chorus of couples, and New as they consider what may or may not lie beneath the surface of William Carlos Williams's brief tribute to marital relations--and the savor of plums.

  • Walt Whitman (#208)

    In 1855 Walt Whitman declared "The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.



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