Samin Nosrat Reads “Elegy” by Aracelis Girmay

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“Listen to me. I am telling you / a true thing. This is the only kingdom.” In this installment of Ours Poetica, a series produced by the Poetry Foundation in collaboration with Complexly, chef and author of Salt Fat Acid Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking Samin Nosrat reads Aracelis Girmay’s poem “Elegy.”

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Rachel Eliza Griffiths on Mule & Pear

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“I pulled down a book by Gayl Jones, Eva’s Man, and I sat down and didn’t get back up until I finished it—and I felt so haunted,” says Rachel Eliza Griffiths about what inspired her third poetry collection, Mule & Pear (New Issues Press, 2011), in this conversation at the 2013 Poets Forum for the Academy of American Poets.

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Rita Dove and Natasha Trethewey at Emory University

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“When you’re judging a contest I’m looking for something to just knock me over, and that’s what happened when I read Natasha’s manuscript,” says Rita Dove about first encountering Natasha Trethewey’s poetry while judging a book contest. In this 2011 conversation at Emory University, the two former U.S. poets laureate discuss writing, mentorship, and literary ancestries. 

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Jane Hirshfield on Transitions

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“When you’re looking at the transitions in your own poetry, one of the things to do is feel as you’re reading over your poem, ‘Am I bored? Do I feel lectured at?’” says Jane Hirshfield in this video from a 2011 Poets House event. “Take out some of the transitions. Allow more mystery. Allow things to stand on their own two feet.” Hirshfield is the author of nine books of poetry, including her most recent collection, Ledger (Knopf, 2020).

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The Poem I Wish I Had Read: Ada Limón

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“No matter the pull toward brink. No / matter the florid, deep sleep awaits. / There is a time for everything.” Ada Limón reads “Sorrow Is Not My Name” by Ross Gay and shares why this poem means so much to her for this new video series “The Poem I Wish I Had Read,” created by the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center at Smith College.

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Nikky Finney’s National Book Award Speech

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“We begin with history. The slave codes of South Carolina, 1739,” begins Nikky Finney’s 2011 National Book Award acceptance speech for Head Off & Split (Northwestern University Press, 2011), where she traces the history of literacy in her own life and in the lives of African Americans. Finney is the recipient of the 2020 Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets, conferred annually to honor outstanding artistic achievement over a poet’s career.

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