Lynne Thompson

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“I consider myself essentially a storyteller who’s chosen the genre of poetry.” Lynne Thompson, author of Start With a Small Guitar (What Books Press, 2013) and Beg No Pardon (Perugia Press, 2007), speaks about family stories and how she came to poetry after a career in law with Mariano Zaro for the Poetry.LA interview series. Thompson is the 2021 poet laureate of Los Angeles.

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Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman

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“Poetry is an art form, but, to me, it’s also a weapon, it’s also an instrument. It’s the ability to make ideas that have been known, felt and said.” In this PBS NewsHour interview, Amanda Gorman speaks with Jeffrey Brown about her love of poetry and the writing process for her poem for this year’s presidential inauguration. Gorman is the nation’s first youth poet laureate and won a Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers in 2020.

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Toni Morrison on Beloved

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“I am convinced that the more I am well-known, the better known I am, the easier it is for other writers to come along,” says Toni Morrison in this 1987 interview with PBS NewsHour’s Charlayne Hunter-Gault on her success as an author and what inspired her novel Beloved, which won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize in fiction.

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Louise Glück for the Academy of Achievement

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“There are a number of people my own age, who are doing extraordinary, remarkable work, but I feed more on the young—the sounds they are making are different, new.” In this 2012 interview for the Academy of Achievement, Nobel Prize–winning poet Louise Glück speaks on a variety of subjects, including falling in love with poetry, starting out as a writer, teaching, and her prolific career.

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Ocean Vuong on War, Sexuality, and Asian American Identity

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“I would sneak out of recess, stay in the library to listen to tapes of famous speeches, and one of them was Martin Luther King,” recounts Ocean Vuong about his childhood in this interview with Michel Martin for Amanpour and Company. “You could hear the static when he was giving the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and I thought...who is this man talking about dreams in a snowstorm?” Vuong was awarded the 2020 Brooklyn Public Library Fiction & Poetry Prize for his novel, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Penguin Press, 2019).

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Danielle Evans

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“All writing is really an act of translation, we’re trying to ask someone to inhabit someone else’s experience for long enough to understand some portion of it.” In this 2018 interview for Oregon Humanities Center’s UO Today, Danielle Evans reads from her debut story collection, Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self (Riverhead Books, 2010), and speaks about her writing practice and teaching. Evans is featured in “The Confounding Insistence on Innocence” by Naomi Jackson in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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LIT With Safiya Sinclair

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“The tepid / American I sank with my old shoes over the jaws of the Atlantic / could never understand the hard clamor of my laugh…” Safiya Sinclair reads from her debut collection, Cannibal (University of Nebraska Press, 2016), and speaks about poetry as the “language of an impolite body” in this episode of LIT hosted by Yahdon Israel.

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The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist

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“I worked on the book until I was about halfway done with it before I told anyone about it.” Adrian Tomine talks about his graphic memoir, The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Cartoonist (Drawn and Quarterly, 2020), and how he was able to revert to his childhood version of making comics for his own amusement in this virtual Politics & Prose Bookstore event with critic Jason Zinoman. For more Tomine, read his answers to our Ten Questions.

Elif Shafak on Diverse Reading Lists

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“If we only read the same type of authors all our lives it’s like you’re only hearing one thread, one voice.” In this video from the 2019 Louisiana Literature festival, Elif Shafak talks about reading the same books over and over again as a child, and why it’s more inspiring to read “from East and West, fiction and nonfiction.”

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