Lucille Clifton on Poetry

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“For me, poetry is a way of living in the world.” In this vintage video from the Poetry Breaks series, Lucille Clifton reflects on what poetry means to her and how it is not about answers, but rather questions. The Academy of American Poets has partnered with Leita Luchetti, who produced and directed the series in the late 1980s and early 1990s, to bring back these videos.

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The Blaney Lecture: Paisley Rekdal

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“With regard to war, I can’t help being suspicious of the very reasons we turn to poetry at all,” reads Paisley Rekdal from “Beyond Empathy, Beyond the Archive: Notes on Poetic Representation” for the 2022 Blaney Lecture, an annual lecture on contemporary poetry and poetics created by the Academy of American Poets. “Is our desire one of representation, political change, or emotional catharsis? And is that political change meant to happen on the page, or off it?”

Li-Young Lee Reads “From Blossoms”

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“There are days we live / as if death were nowhere / in the background from joy / to joy to joy, from wing to wing,” reads Li-Young Lee from his poem “From Blossoms,” included in his debut collection, Rose (BOA Editions, 1986), for this installment of Poetry Breaks, a series created by Leita Luchetti in the 1980s and 1990s presented in partnership with the Academy of American Poets.

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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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Forrest Gander Reads “Wasteland: on the California Wildfires”

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“Green spring grass on / the hills had cured / by June and by July,” reads Forrest Gander from his poem “Wasteland: on the California Wildfires” for Dear Poet, the Academy of American Poets’ educational project for National Poetry Month.

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Patricia Spears Jones

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“Don’t be afraid— / Someone has walked this way before / All the world’s music in her hands.” Patricia Spears Jones reads “Discovering America Again” by Lorenzo Thomas, her own poem “The Birth of Rhythm and Blues,” and talks about what it means to be a literary citizen. This video, part of the P.O.P. series, was shot and edited by Rachel Eliza Griffiths in partnership with the Academy of American Poets. Spears Jones is the eleventh winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize.

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Anne Marie Macari Reads for P.O.P.

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“Restless, I want to return and stand at the mouth where wild fig trees grow,” reads Anne Marie Macari in this installment of the P.O.P. series, shot and edited by Rachel Eliza Griffiths in partnership with the Academy of American Poets. Macari’s poetry collection Heaven Beneath (Persea Books, 2020) is featured in Page One in the January/February issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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