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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.

Poetry In America  
  • This Your Home Now - Mark Doty
    Thursday, July 7
    4:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Series creator Elisa New talks with poet Mark Doty, psychologist Steven Pinker, choreographer Bill T. Jones, design maven Simon Doonan and designer Johnathan Adler about "This Your Home Now," where a visit to the barber show sparks a meditation on love, the AIDS crisis, and the satisfactions of getting older.
  • Finishing The Hat - Stephen Sondheim
    Saturday, July 9
    10:30 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    Stephen Sondheim is widely hailed as the greatest modern American musical theater composer. Series creator Elisa New speaks with Broadway stage actors and writer Adam Gopnik to explore Sondheim's singular ability to blend lyrics and music - using as their case study "Finishing the Hat," from Sondheim's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George.
  • Finishing The Hat - Stephen Sondheim
    Thursday, July 14
    4:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Stephen Sondheim is widely hailed as the greatest modern American musical theater composer. Series creator Elisa New speaks with Broadway stage actors and writer Adam Gopnik to explore Sondheim's singular ability to blend lyrics and music - using as their case study "Finishing the Hat," from Sondheim's Pulitzer Prize-winning musical Sunday in the Park with George.
  • You and I Are Disappearing - Yusef Komunyakaa
    Saturday, July 16
    10:30 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    Yusef Komunyakaa went to Vietnam as a journalist but he came home a poet. This episode explores what burns in memory and on the page, even decades later. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, film and theatre director Julie Taymor, composer Elliot Goldenthal, Komunyakaa himself and a chorus of veterans discuss the mingled beauty and horror of war-- and the challenge of making art of it.
  • You and I Are Disappearing - Yusef Komunyakaa
    Thursday, July 21
    4:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    Yusef Komunyakaa went to Vietnam as a journalist but he came home a poet. This episode explores what burns in memory and on the page, even decades later. Former Secretary of State John Kerry, film and theatre director Julie Taymor, composer Elliot Goldenthal, Komunyakaa himself and a chorus of veterans discuss the mingled beauty and horror of war-- and the challenge of making art of it.
  • 'This Is Just to Say' - William Carlos Williams
    Saturday, July 23
    10:30 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    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.
  • 'This Is Just to Say' - William Carlos Williams
    Thursday, July 28
    4:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    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.
  • Whitman
    Saturday, July 30
    10:30 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    In 1855 Walt Whitman declared “The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.” Poetry In America celebrates the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, playwright Tony Kushner, poets Mark Doty and Marilyn Chin, and a chorus of National Student Poets, discussing Whitman’s powerful and timeless work.
  • Whitman
    Thursday, August 4
    4:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    In 1855 Walt Whitman declared “The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem.” Poetry In America celebrates the 200th anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, playwright Tony Kushner, poets Mark Doty and Marilyn Chin, and a chorus of National Student Poets, discussing Whitman’s powerful and timeless work.

 

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  • This Your Home Now - Mark Doty
    Saturday, July 2
    10:30 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    Series creator Elisa New talks with poet Mark Doty, psychologist Steven Pinker, choreographer Bill T. Jones, design maven Simon Doonan and designer Johnathan Adler about "This Your Home Now," where a visit to the barber show sparks a meditation on love, the AIDS crisis, and the satisfactions of getting older.
  • The Fish - Marianne Moore
    Thursday, June 30
    4:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    This environmental science-themed episode explores Marianne Moore's great poem of marine life, "The Fish." Former Vice President Al Gore, poet Jorie Graham, and scientists from Conservation International dive into Moore's portrayal of the ocean's always-changing history, and its future in a warming world.
  • The Fish - Marianne Moore
    Saturday, June 25
    10:30 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    This environmental science-themed episode explores Marianne Moore's great poem of marine life, "The Fish." Former Vice President Al Gore, poet Jorie Graham, and scientists from Conservation International dive into Moore's portrayal of the ocean's always-changing history, and its future in a warming world.
  • One Art - Elizabeth Bishop
    Thursday, June 23
    4:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    "The art of losing isn't hard to master," Elizabeth Bishop wrote in her poem "One Art," universally considered one of her greatest. Journalist Katie Couric, media executives Sheryl Sandberg and Yang Lan, Singer/Songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, and others discuss Bishop's masterpiece on losses, great and small.
  • One Art - Elizabeth Bishop
    Saturday, June 18
    10:30 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    "The art of losing isn't hard to master," Elizabeth Bishop wrote in her poem "One Art," universally considered one of her greatest. Journalist Katie Couric, media executives Sheryl Sandberg and Yang Lan, Singer/Songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter, and others discuss Bishop's masterpiece on losses, great and small.
  • Urban Love Poem - Marilyn Chin
    Thursday, June 16
    4:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    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. In this series opener, Elisa New brings together acclaimed memoirist Maxine Hong Kingston, tech investor Randy Komisar and four Bay Area residents on a rooftop in Chinatown to discuss love of a great city.
  • Urban Love Poem - Marilyn Chin
    Saturday, June 11
    10:30 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    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. In this series opener, Elisa New brings together acclaimed memoirist Maxine Hong Kingston, tech investor Randy Komisar and four Bay Area residents on a rooftop in Chinatown to discuss love of a great city.
  • The New Colossus - Emma Lazarus
    Thursday, June 9
    4:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    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.
  • The New Colossus - Emma Lazarus
    Saturday, June 4
    10:30 pm on UEN-TV 9.1
    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.
  • New York State of Mind - Nas
    Thursday, June 2
    4:30 am on UEN-TV 9.1
    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."