Book Bans Challenge Freedom of Speech

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“They are not just a challenge in an individual school system or library, but legislation being introduced in statehouses that would affect the availability of books all over the state in every school and library.” In this PBS NewsHour video, Jeffrey Brown speaks with PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel about the intensifying efforts across the United States to ban specific books related to LGBTQIA+ issues, race, and freedom of speech.

Seamus Heaney on Human Chain

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“Now the oil-fired heating boiler comes to life / Abruptly, drowsily, like the timed collapse / Of a sawn-down tree, I imagine them.” In this 2011 PBS NewsHour video, the late Seamus Heaney reads from and speaks about his final collection, Human Chain (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010). The Nobel Prize–winning poet died at the age of seventy-four on August 30, 2013.

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Poetry as Radical Hope

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“Poetry is a place where both grief and grace can live, where rage can be explored and examined, not simply exploited.” In this 2018 PBS NewsHour video, Ada Limón shares her opinion on why she sees more and more people turning to poetry in the search for “radical hope” in the digital age. Limón was named the twenty-fourth poet laureate of the United States today.

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Poets on the Power of Nature

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“We in the fields, the watchers from the burnt slope, / Facing the west, facing the bright sky, hopelessly longing / to know the red beauty…” In this 2011 PBS NewsHour video, Jeffrey Yang reads William Everson’s poem “We in the Fields” along with other poems published in Birds, Beasts, and Seas: Nature Poems From New Directions, an anthology edited by the poet celebrating the seventy-fifth anniversary of New Directions. Yang’s new poetry collection, Line and Light (Graywolf Press, 2022), is featured in Page One in the May/June issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Ocean Vuong on Grief and Language

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“When a loved one dies, you experience your life in just two days, today, when they are no longer here, and yesterday, the immense, vast yesterday, when they were here,” says Ocean Vuong, author most recently of Time Is a Mother (Penguin Press, 2022), in this installment of PBS NewsHour’s “Brief but Spectacular” arts and culture video series.

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Rita Dove on Playlist for the Apocalypse

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“I still believe that we listen more closely to a whisper than to a shout.” In this PBS NewsHour interview with Jeffrey Brown, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Rita Dove speaks about history, rage, the power of poetry, and her latest collection, Playlist for the Apocalypse (Norton, 2021).

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Remembering bell hooks

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“There’s so many young people, the first time they start to think seriously about class, about sexuality, about gender, about identity, about vulnerability, about spirituality is through her work,” says Princeton University professor Imani Perry about the legacy of bell hooks in this PBS NewsHour video commemorating the influential critic, author, and feminist scholar and activist who died at the age of sixty-nine on December 15, 2021.

Louise Erdrich on The Sentence

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“A book is much more than a transactional object. The words are flooding in, and ideas are filling you in emotion. It’s haunting in a good way.” In this PBS NewsHour interview, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Louise Erdrich speaks from her bookstore Birchbark Books & Native Arts in Minneapolis about her love of books and her new novel, The Sentence (Harper, 2021), a ghost story which explores the racial divides of her hometown.

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Richard Ford on Memoir Writing

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“Here is another reason to write a memoir: to utter what must not be erased.” In this 2017 PBS NewsHour video, Richard Ford speaks about his reasons for writing, Between Them: Remembering My Parents (Ecco, 2017), a memoir about his parents. “I wrote about my parents because, decades after their deaths and when I was no longer young, I realized that I plainly missed them.”

Brief but Spectacular: Tongo Eisen-Martin

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“To walk down the streets in the Bay Area is really to walk through a dystopia,” says San Francisco poet laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin about the rapid gentrification of his native city as he discusses how poetry serves as a tool for revolution in this installment of PBS NewsHour’s “Brief but Spectacular” series.

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