One of the most persistent stories about America — that it was made by immigrants fleeing "the old country" — is also one of the most incomplete. And since stories shape our perception of reality, poet Colleen McElroy is intent on telling another aspect of America's story in "Crossing Oceans." The poem appears in her most recent collection "Here I Throw Down My Heart" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012).
The Woodstock generation may be aging, but don't try to tell them they're not still cool. Poet Marjorie Manwaring's "Letter to Mick Jagger from the St. Paul Chapter of the Daughters of Norway" captures the dissonance between how we feel inside, and how we may appear to others.
As a former Dominican nun in the Roman Catholic Church, Annette Spaulding-Convy is intimately aware of the complex messages the institution sends about women's bodies. Her poem "Bonsai Nun" finds an apt metaphor in the severe pruning required to make a tree fit the aesthetic and spiritual ideal.
As spring edges out winter and previously bare tree limbs are suddenly effusive with blossoms, there's a sense that almost anything -- or anyone -- deserves a second chance. In her poem "A Quiet," poet Marjorie Manwaring meditates on alternative endings and the possibility of redemption.
In her poem "What Stays Here," Colleen McElroy imagines life as a female soldier who must choose between loyalty to herself, and loyalty to a military code that says "keep quiet" and "get along." Like many of the poems in McElroy's ninth collection, "Here I Throw Down My Heart," (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) the poem awakens us to voices and stories we might otherwise never hear with such intimacy and power.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a massive scientific endeavor to map the human brain. It's a multi-billion dollar, multi-year project that's meant to do for neuroscience what the Human Genome Project did for DNA. How will scientists actually achieve it? We talk with Dr. Christof Koch from the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Dr. Patricia Kuhl from the UW Institute for Learning and Brain Science.
Many of us have written poetry during stressful times in life. Decorated retired Air Force Major General John Borling wrote his while imprisoned for six and a half years at the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam. He joins us to share the poetry that helped him and his fellow POWs survive.
Mourning begins in a kind of thick non-seeing, only later clarified, gradually lightening, until we recognize what our lives must carry.
So begins "The Planet Closest To Us," Alice Derry's frank and moving poem about grieving the loss of someone who it was not always easy to love -- her mother. Derry reads her poem, and talks about the unexpected gift in her mother's passing.
Poet Suzanne Edison knows the ups and downs of chronic illness too well. Her daughter has juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disorder. Today she reads two poems about the way her child’s illness affects her parenting: “Betrayal” and “Bloodwork.”
Performance poet Elissa Ball comes from the ethos of Riot Grrrl and punk. She distributed her poems via do-it-yourself zines beginning in her early teen years. Her poem "Analog Love" offers exuberant praise for the pre-digital sensual world.
In childhood, our allegiances, our loves, are often black and white, simplistic. One of the difficult parts of becoming an adult is reconciling ourselves to the failings and flaws in what we have loved and admired. Sometimes the task involves recognizing our own complicity in those failings.
America's deadline poet Calvin Trillin presents this talk about the 2012 presidential election -- in verse. With wry humor, Trillin discusses politics, campaigns and poetry, including the frustrating difficulty of trying to rhyme words with presidential candidate names. He spoke at Seattle's Town Hall on December 10, 2012.