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The Exchange

The Power Of Poetry: Why It Matters And How It's Evolving

A young black woman, smiling and wearing a yellow shirt, speaks into a microphone
Library of Congress/Public Domain
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Inaugural youth poet Amanda Gorman speaks before an audience at the Library of Congress

The performance of inaugural poet Amanda Gorman during last week's swearing in ceremony of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris was a call for unity - for, as Gorman put it, "bridges" not "blades." We talk with a panel of poets about that moment, about why certain poems stay with us, about why the art of poetry matters - and how it is evolving.

Air date: Jan. 27, 2021

GUESTS:

  • Allison Adair - Associate Professor at Boston College where she teaches creative writing, with a focus on poetry and flash fiction and a special interest in the digital humanities. Her work has been honored with the Pushcart Prize and her poems have been published in the American Poetry Review and Best American Poetry. Her first book of poems, The Clearing, won the 2020 Max Ritvo Poetry Prize.
  • Joshua Bennett - Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College. He is the author of The Sobbing School - a National Poetry Series winner and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award - as well as Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man, and Owed.  His forthcoming book, Spoken Word: A Cultural History, will be published in 2022. 
  • Alexandria Peary - New Hampshire Poet Laureate and a 2020 recipient of an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship in support of her mindful writing workshops for survivors of the state's opioid crisis. She is the author of seven books, most recently, The Water Draft and COVID Spring: Granite State Pandemic Poems. She is a professor in the English department at Salem State University and host of the Mindful Writing Webinar for the National Council of Teachers of English.

Watch inaugural poet Amanda Gorman read "The Hill We Climb."  Read inaugural poems in history.

Other resources: Poetry Foundation and the Academy of American Poets

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