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Playlist: Poetry Month

Compiled By: PRX Editors

 Credit: Shutterstock.
Image by: Shutterstock.  
Curated Playlist

April is National Poetry Month Check out documentaries, youth slam poetry and specials.

Below are picks chosen by PRX editorial staff. You can see all poetry radio on PRX by using our search.

New in 2022 - Hours (49:00-1:00:00)

2022-04-10 Why Poetry Matters

From Philosophy Talk | Part of the Philosophy Talk series | 53:59

Are poems valuable because they do something for us, or are they gloriously useless?

81rxktviw5l_small Some people say they find poetry impenetrable. Yet readership is increasing: in a 2017 survey, the National Endowment for the Arts found that nearly 12% of adults in the US had read poetry in the last year. So what explains the enduring appeal of poetry as an art form? Are there any limits to who counts as a poet, or what counts as poetry? And what makes a poem good anyway? Josh and Ray wax lyrical with Nobel Prize-winning poet Louise Glück, author of American Originality: Essays on Poetry.

"National Poetry Month" with Roger Reeves, Anis Mojgani, Franny Choi, and Derrick C. Brown & The Helio Sequence

From Live Wire! Radio | Part of the Live Wire Specials series | 59:00

In celebration of National Poetry Month, Live Wire welcomes poets Roger Reeves, Anis Mojgani, Franny Choi, and Derrick C. Brown with musical accompaniment by The Helio Sequence.

Anisthumbnail_small To celebrate National Poetry Month, host Luke Burbank and announcer Elena Passarello share listener-penned haikus and some of Live Wire's most memorable poet appearances: Roger Reeves explains why poetry is the harbinger of the future; Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani performs "Today's Love is Brought to You by the Letter John Sands;" Franny Choi discusses how she incorporated Google Translate into her latest collection Soft Science; and Derrick C. Brown teams up with indie band The Helio Sequence for a rhythmically-moving poetic experience. 


New in 2022 - Half Hour (24:00-30:00)

The Write Question - Jos A Charles

From KUFM - Montana Public Radio | Part of the The Write Question series | 29:00

Poet Jos A Charles discusses their brand new collection, "a Year & other poems."

Ayearotherpoems_300dpi_rgb_small About the book: 

From the celebrated author of feeld comes a formally commanding third collection, dexterously recounting the survival of a period suffused with mourning.

Jos Charles’s poems communicate with one another as neurons do: sharp, charged, in language that predates language. “A scandal / three cartons red / in a hedge / in / each the thousand eye research of flies.” With acute lyricism, she documents how a person endures seemingly relentless devastation―California wildfires, despotic legislation, housing insecurity―amid illusions of safety. “I wanted to believe,” Charles declares, “a corner a print leaned to / a corner can save / a people.” Still the house falls apart. Death visits and lingers. Belief proves, again and again, that belief alone is not enough.

Yet miraculously, one might still manage to seek―propelled by love, or hope, or sometimes only momentum―something better. There is a place where there are no futile longings, no persistent institutional threats to one’s life. Poems might take us there; tenderness, too, as long as we can manage to keep moving. “A current / gives as much as it has,” writes Charles―despite fire, despite loss.

Harrowing and gorgeous, a Year & other poems is an astonishing new collection from a poet of “unusual beauty and lyricism” (New Yorker).


About the author:

Jos Charles is author of the forthcoming collection a Year & other poems (Milkweed Editions, March 15, 2022), feeld, a Pulitzer-finalist and winner of the 2017 National Poetry Series selected by Fady Joudah (Milkweed Editions, 2018), and Safe Space (Ahsahta Press, 2016). She currently teaches as a part of Randolph College's low-residency MFA program. Charles has an MFA from the University of Arizona and is currently a PhD student at UC Irvine. She resides in Long Beach, CA.

The Write Question - Jennifer Huang

From KUFM - Montana Public Radio | Part of the The Write Question series | 29:00

Taiwanese-American poet Jennifer Huang discusses her debut collection, "Return Flight."

Cover_small About the book:

Selected by Jos Charles as the winner of the 2021 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry, Return Flight is a lush reckoning: with inheritance, with body, with trauma, with desire—and with the many tendons in between.

When Return Flight asks “what name / do you crown yourself,” Jennifer Huang answers with many. Textured with mountains—a folkloric goddess-prison, Yushan, mother, men, self—and peppered with shapeshifting creatures, spirits, and gods, the landscape of Huang’s poems is at once mystical and fleshy, a “myth a mess of myself.” Sensuously, Huang depicts each of these not as things to claim but as topographies to behold and hold.

Here, too, is another kind of mythology. Set to the music of “beating hearts / through objects passed down,” the poems travel through generations—among Taiwan, China, and America—cataloging familial wounds and beloved stories. A grandfather’s smile shining through rain, baby bok choy in a child’s bowl, a slap felt decades later—the result is a map of a present-day life, reflected through the past.

Return Flight is a thrumming debut that teaches us how history harrows and heals, often with the same hand; how touch can mean “purple” and “blue” as much as it means intimacy; and how one might find a path toward joy not by leaving the past in the past, but by “[keeping a] hand on these memories, / to feel them to their ends.”


About the author:

Jennifer Huang is the author of Return Flight, which was awarded the 2021 Ballard Spahr Prize for Poetry from Milkweed Editions. Their poems have appeared in POETRYThe Rumpus, and Narrative Magazine, among other places; and they have been received recognition from the Academy of American Poets, Brooklyn Poets, North American Taiwan Studies Association, and more. In 2020, Jennifer earned their M.F.A. in Poetry at the University of Michigan Helen Zell Writers' Program. Born in Maryland to Taiwanese immigrants, they have since called many places home.


Classic Hours (49:00-1:00:00)

Poetry In A Troubled Time

From Wisconsin Public Radio | Part of the Poetry In A Troubled Time series | 59:00

Why do people turn to poetry during troubled times? Poetry is often the one language we need. Join us for an hour on poems we need right now.

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Why do people turn to poetry during troubled times? We saw it after 9/11 and we're seeing it now. When the world seems broken, poetry is often the one kind of language that helps.

Peace Talks Radio: Spoken Word for Peace (58:00 / 54:00 / or Three 29:00 programs)

From Good Radio Shows, Inc. | Part of the Peace Talks Radio: Weekly Hour Long Episodes series | 57:46

Actors, storytellers and poets express their hope for peace with the spoken word.

Peacepoems2_small Peace Talks: The radio series about peacemaking and nonviolent conflict resolution strategies. This is one of many newscast friendly hours that are currently available from Good Radio Shows, Inc. and producer Paul Ingles. On this edition, we'll meet creative artists who share their hope for peace through the spoken word. Storytellers Sarah Malone, Leah Alexander and Ron Hoskie join host Suzanne Kryder in part one. Also, we'll her a few poems from a Poetry for Peace reading held at the 2005 National Poetry Slam Competition. In the second half of our program, we'll meet actor Kathryn Blume who marked the beginnings of the war in Iraq with hundreds of readings of the Greek anti-war play Lysistrata. She then created a one-woman show about THAT experience. These programs are also available as discrete half-hour episodes. Storytelling for Peace: http://www.prx.org/pieces/8249 Poetry for Peace: http://www.prx.org/pieces/8514 The Artist as Activist (Kathryn Blume): http://www.prx.org/pieces/7412

Poems and Pen Pals for Peace: Peace Talks Radio (59:00 / 54:00)

From Good Radio Shows, Inc. | Part of the Peace Talks Radio: Weekly Hour Long Episodes series | 58:54

This time on Peace Talks Radio, two women who are finding inspiration for peacemaking in the written word - through poetry and an international pen pal program for youth.

Students_writing_letters_in_school_in_ghana_small This time on Peace Talks Radio, two women who are finding inspiration for peacemaking in the written word. Kim Rosen, author of the book Saved by a Poem, talks about how people struggling with personal conflict can find peace, comfort and perspective in the words of poetry and song. She also sees a role for poetry in international negotiations that address conflict on a broader scale. Also on the program, Sarah Wilkinson tells about the Peace Pal Project which connects school children in different parts of the world through a pen pal initiative and conflict resolution curriculum that,she says, broadens understanding and gives young people tools to address the conflicts that may lay ahead in their lives. Carol Boss is the host.

Furious Flower: A Celebration of the Greats of African American Poetry (hour)

From With Good Reason | Part of the With Good Reason: Weekly Hour Long Episodes series | 53:59

In 2019, the most notable poets of our time gathered in the nation’s capital to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Furious Flower Poetry Center, devoted to African American poetry.

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In 2019, the most notable poets of our time gathered in the nation’s capital to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Furious Flower Poetry Center, devoted to African American poetry. Furious Flower founder, Joanne Gabbin and Lauren Alleyne join us in-studio to celebrate poets and hear excerpts from interviews with Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, Sonia Sanchez, and many others. 

Later in the show: Widely known for his poem called “Facing It” about the Vietnam War, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa was a guest of honor at a week-long seminar at James Madison University’s Furious Flower Poetry Center. And: In her newest book, Sargent’s Women, Donna M. Lucey tells the fascinating stories behind four of the portraits by the famous painter John Singer Sargent, and ushers us into the scandalous and heartbreaking lives of Gilded Age high society.

Presidential Poetry

From Open Source | Part of the Open Source with Christopher Lydon series | 59:00

Conversations with Eileen Myles, Stephanie Burt, Clint Smith, Christian Lorentzen, and Marianne Williamson about literature in a new presidential era.

Screen_shot_2021-01-29_at_9 Amanda Gorman did more than steal the show, more than capture Joe Biden’s inaugural moment. She may have opened a new road in poetry as well as politics with her ode to “a nation that isn’t broken but simply unfinished.” For showing what public poetry could do there was never a day quite like it, and nobody quite like the “skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,” as she said, “who could dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.” The lines are still resounding; the cadences of slam poetry, of Hamilton the show, that mind and voice trained on social media for a mass audience.

We’re into the First Hundred Days of Joe Biden’s Executive Orders, the first hundred days of Amanda Gorman’s vision of a recovering country. Gorman’s gift was to set uplifting language in the service of moral clarity – an example and a challenge that the tribe of poets and writers took as overdue. 


Classic Half-Hour Specials (24:00-30:00)

Poetry for Peace (Peace Talks Radio Series)

From Good Radio Shows, Inc. | Part of the Peace Talks Radio: Weekly Half Hour Episodes series | 29:00

Poets from across the country offer up their words on the subject of "peace" at a special reading held at the 2005 National Poetry Slam Chapionships in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Peacepoems_small In August of 2005, a group of poets from across the country attending the National Poetry Slam Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, took a break from their competitive events and offered up their words on the subject of "peace" at a special reading. This time on Peace Talks, the forum on peacemaking and nonviolent conflict resolution strategies, listeners will hear highlights from that special event. Paul Ingles hosts. Poets featured: Samantha Scolamiero, Ruth Imber, Nick James, Bill Nevins, Kay Crowne, Tito, Grace, and George Miller.

Whitman at War

From With Good Reason | 28:56

On a trip to see his brother, Walt Whitman was so struck by the violence of the Civil War that he stayed to help heal wounded soldiers. He hoped his poetry could heal the war-torn nation in a similar way.

Whitman_small In 1862, poet Walt Whitman went to Fredericksburg, Virginia, searching for his brother George who had been wounded in a Civil War battle. Whitman was so moved by the carnage he found that he worked as a nurse for the rest of the war.   Mara Scanlon and Brady Earnhardt say Whitman was helping heal wounded soldiers in the same way he hoped his poetry could heal the war-torn nation. Also featured: This is the 200th anniversary of the birth of 19th-century poet and author Edgar Allan Poe.  Jerome McGann says Poe, whose influence is probably unmatched by any American author, was more charming and humorous than his famous dark fiction suggests.


Segments (9:00-23:59)

The War of the Gods

From Matthew Cowley | 12:13

Epic poem about the Ali-Frazier fight (The Thriller in Manila) by James Tokley.

Aliglove_small James Tokley is the Poet Laureate of Tampa, FL. A professor told him there were no more epic poems because there were no more epic heroes; Tokley decided that Muhammad Ali was one, and so he wrote this poem. It was produced with sound effects and music, and presented in a showcase of his poetry on WMNF's radio theater show.

"If You See Something" by John Mulrooney

From Sean Cole | 09:01

This is a poem by Boston area poet and Suffolk University professor John Mulrooney, recorded at the Boston Poetry Massacre on July 30, 2004.

Default-piece-image-0 Maybe it was because the convention had just ended. Maybe it was something else. But the air was more charged than usual at the Boston Poetry Massacre this year. This marathon of poetry readings, sixty or so, all packed into one weekend, is an annual tradition here. Since it began in 1998, it's had many organizers, and many names: The Boston Poetry Conference, The Boston Alternative Poetry Conference, The Boston Poetry Marathon and last year's more utilitarian "60 at MIT." This year's title, "massacre," fit the impression that everyone was reciting their work as though their life depended on it. The event began just hours after John Kerry had delivered his acceptance speech to delegates at the Democratic National Convention, just a few miles down the road from Wordsworth Books in Cambridge, MA, where the readings were held. All week we'd been hearing that Kerry needed to give the speech of his lifetime. And whether he did or not, many of the poets at the Massacre seemed to give the readings of their lifetimes, John Mulrooney included. Last year, Mulrooney began his reading with a quote from Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (or D.H. Rumsfeld as he called him), lovingly reciting the words as though it were an Emily Dickinson poem. So this year, when he got behind the podium and said "I'd like to dedicate my reading to the department of homeland security" I thought he was joking. But what followed was one of the most haunting, relentless and evocative poems I have ever heard, equal parts Dylan Thomas and Allen Ginsberg, all sewn together with the refrain "If you see something, say something," which seemed to gather new meaning every time he said it. It occurs to me that that's a poet's job, saying something when they see something. They don't need to be asked. So when they *are* asked, the result is going to sound something like this.


Drop-Ins (2:00-4:59)

PoetryNow (Series)

Produced by The Poetry Foundation

In time for National Poetry Month (April) , the Poetry Foundation and the WFMT Radio Network are offering PoetryNow, a series of 5-minute radio pieces that feature some of today’s most accomplished and innovative poets reading and sharing insights on new and as-yet unpublished poems. Whether you’re a poetry expert, or just curious about what is happening in poetry today, PoetryNow is an acoustically rich source for listening in on the writing process of living poets you know and for discovering new voices. The first season includes John Ashbery, Rae Armantrout, Frank Bidart, Eileen Myles, and many others.

Most recent piece in this series:

PN 17-131 “I Thought a Tree Dying” by Sandra Doller

From The Poetry Foundation | Part of the PoetryNow series | 04:00

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Sandra Doller Biography

Sandra Doller (formerly Miller) is the author of four books: Oriflamme (Ahsahta Press, 2005), Chora (Ahsahta Press, 2010), Man Years (Subito Press, 2011), and Leave Your Body Behind(Les Figues Press, 2014). With her partner, Ben Doller (formerly Doyle), she has co-authored two books: Sonneteers (Éditions Eclipse, 2014) and The Yesterday Project (Sidebrow Books, 2016). Sandra Doller is the recipient of two chapbook awards, including a translation of Éric Suchère's Mystérieuse, which won the 2012 Anomalous Press Translation Prize selected by Christian Hawkey, and Memory of the Prose Machine from Cut Bank Books, which also functions off-the-page as a performance and audio piece.

With backgrounds in performance, playwriting, and film, Doller’s writing has long focused on text-image-body exchanges, anti-disciplinarity, and conversations between art forms. Eleanor Antin calls Doller’s recent work “a memoir about memoir” and Maggie Nelson says it “contains everything from gossip to wisdom to humor to lament to literary & art criticism to pure, rollicking poetry. It is a seismograph ready and able to take stock of the stakes of being a writing human, a human writing, now.” In 2003, Doller founded the international journal and small press of cross-genre arts, 1913 a journal of forms/1913 Press, where she remains editor-in-chief, publishing poetry, poetics, and prose by emerging and established writers. A recipient of the Paul Engle-James Michener Fellowship, the Iowa Arts Fellowship, and individual state artist awards (Iowa & Maryland), Doller earned an MFA at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and an MA at University of Chicago, after completing coursework in Theatre & Dance at Amherst College and a BA in Women’s Studies at University of Washington-Seattle. Doller has taught in the MFA programs at Hollins University and Boise State, and since 2007 she has taught at California State University-San Marcos, where she is currently associate professor of Literature & Writing Studies. She lives in southern California.

The Gift (Series)

Produced by Stanzi Vaubel

WBEZ presents this new poetry series – produced by Stanzi Vaubel and curated by Rachel Jamison Webster, author of September: Poems. This project is a collaboration with UniVerse of Poetry, a station partner and 501(c)3 organization that aims to celebrate poets from every nation in the world. Each piece drops us into a poets’ inner life, reminding us of the gift of being human among others.

Most recent piece in this series:

Chicago Public Radio's The Gift Part I : Linda Hogan

From Stanzi Vaubel | Part of the The Gift series | 05:38

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WBEZ presents  The Gift  – produced by Stanzi Vaubel and curated by Rachel Jamison Webster, author of  September: Poems. This project is a collaboration with UniVerse of Poetry , a station partner that aims to celebrate poets from every nation in the world.  Each piece drops us into a poets’ inner life, reminding us of the gift of being human among others.

Linda Hogan is Writer in Residence for the Chickasaw Nation and author of several award-winning works of fiction, poetry and non-fiction, including the memoir, The Woman Who Watches Over the World .  Here she reads from her book of poetry, The Book of Medicines .

1976 Allen Ginsberg - End Vietnam War

From Naropa University | Part of the Jack Kerouac Disembodied School of Poetics series | 04:16

great pro peace performance by Ginsberg

Default-piece-image-1 Ginsberg in 1976 sings a still relevant, moving, touching poem about peace, the environment, and American imperialism. THIS IS A GEM!!! This piece is from Naropa University Archive's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics collection. Allen Ginsberg founded the Kerouac School, a writing program, in 1974, and for 30 years he brought a group of counter culture writers, artists and thinkers to Boulder for a Summer Program. Naropa's Audio Archive is digitizing 2000 hours of readings, lectures and panel discussions, several hundred hours of which is available for free at www.archive.org. Click through 'audio' to 'naropa' and browse. The piece has never been broadcast - you will be among the first to make this rare recording available to listeners.

Warrior Poets

From Salt Institute for Documentary Studies | 05:11

In 2009, the Portland Police Department faced down a daunting task: writing poetry.

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In 2009, the Portland Police Department faced down a daunting task: writing poetry.

Minneapolis Freestyle (Series)

Produced by KBEM

Minneapolis High School Students, with the help of a team of educators and poets, were encouraged to write poetry. The poems created by the students are in some cases hard-hitting, and in others, cute.

Most recent piece in this series:

Re-entry of the Father

From KBEM | Part of the Minneapolis Freestyle series | 02:12

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High School students express many types of experiences and emotions in poetry. Frequently they write on subjects they have scarce opportunities to address. Students were recorded by a representative of KBEM-FM (Minneapolis, 88.5, www.jazz88fm.com).