To Make Use of Water

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“Back home we are plagued by a politeness / so dense even the doctors cannot call things / what they are…” Safia Elhillo narrates her poem “To Make Use of Water” from her collection, The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017), for this animated TED-Ed film directed by Jérémie Balais and Jeffig Le Bars.

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Keegan Lester

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“Still under construction, the kiss as thunderclouds in summer sky that sometimes means lightning, as the smell of after rain.” In this Poetry.LA video, Keegan Lester reads from his debut collection, this shouldn't be beautiful but it was & it was all i had so i drew it (Slope Editions, 2017), and speaks with Lisa Grove about nostalgia, Bob Dylan, and the themes and influences behind his work.

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Kayo Chingonyi on His Favorites

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“I went through a Philip Glass phase, but I’m out of that now. Lately I write to silence, usually.” In this Vintage Books interview, Kayo Chingonyi answers questions about his literary and pop culture influences, daily routine, and books he thinks everyone should read. Chingonyi won the 2018 International Dylan Thomas Prize for his debut poetry collection, Kumukanda (Chatto & Windus, 2017).

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Blind Spot

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“As a photographer my looking really changed, it really did become sacred....” In this Louisiana Channel video, Teju Cole talks about and reads from his book of photography and text, Blind Spot (Random House, 2017), which was inspired by a short period of blindness in one eye that transformed his perspective on looking and attentiveness. The book is comprised of over a hundred fifty photographs interspersed with short lyrical prose pieces.

Camille T. Dungy at Syncopated Rhythms

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“There is so much time in the world. How many ways can it be divided?” In this 2017 video, Camille T. Dungy reads “Conspiracy” and “Natural History” from her poetry collection Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan University Press, 2017) at Syncopated Rhythms: A Celebration of African American Poetry & Music in Washington, D.C. Dungy’s essay “Say Yes to Yourself: A Poet’s Guide to Living and Writing” appears in the May/June issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Siri Hustvedt on Reading

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“Inside a novel, one has the opportunity to experience the ambiguous reality of a whole other consciousness. When you read, you are possessed by the voice of another.” In this 2017 Louisiana Channel interview, Siri Hustvedt talks about the transformative experience of reading novels. Hustvedt’s seventh novel, Memories of the Future (Simon & Schuster, 2019), is featured in Page One in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Dawn Lundy Martin on Voice

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“In every single book of poems there are, to me, what feel like really explicit autobiographical moments and gestures.” Dawn Lundy Martin speaks about trying to find a language to express trauma, and the use of voice and narrative in her poetry in this interview with City of Asylum. Martin won the 2019 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for her collection Good Stock Strange Blood (Coffee House Press, 2017).

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I Come From the Fire City

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“I come from the fire city / fire came and licked up our houses, lapped them up like they were nothing / drank them like the last dribbling water...” This Motionpoems short film, directed by Daniel Daly and starring Khadija Shari, features Eve L. Ewing’s poem “I come from the fire city.” from her debut collection, Electric Arches (Haymarket Books, 2017). 

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Every Drunk Wants to Die Sober It’s How We Beat the Game

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“I do hope one day to be free of this body’s dry wood...” In this Button Poetry video, Kaveh Akbar, author of the poetry collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books, 2017), reads a poem that was published in Tin House’s “The Rehab Issue” in 2017.

Yiyun Li

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“What one carries from one point to another, geographically or temporally, is one’s self.” Yiyun Li reads from her debut memoir, Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You in Your Life (Random House, 2017), in this video produced by the Office of Communications at Princeton University. Li, whose novel Where Reasons End is forthcoming from Random House in February, is featured in “Portraits of Inspiration” in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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