Recommendations From Tracy K. Smith

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For PBS NewsHour, U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith recommends recent poetry titles, including Look (Graywolf Press, 2016) by Solmaz Sharif, who was featured in “Shadows of Words: Our Twelfth Annual Look at Debut Poets” in Poets & Writers Magazine, and Lessons on Expulsion (Graywolf Press, 2017) by Erika L. Sanchez, who was profiled in “First” by Rigoberto González in the September/October issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Jesmyn Ward

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“When you see yourself reflected in literature, it enlarges your ideas of what is possible for you.” MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient Jesmyn Ward takes PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown on a tour of her hometown in Mississippi and shares the parts of her life and community that inspire her writing. Ward is the winner of the 2017 National Book Award in fiction for Sing, Unbured, Sing (Scribner, 2017).

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William Brewer

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“I gave my body to the mountain whole. / For my body, the clinic gave out petals inked with curses. / Refill, refill, refill, until they stopped.” William Brewer reads poems from his debut poetry collection, I Know Your Kind (Milkweed Editions, 2017), and takes PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown on a tour of his hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia to speak about the opioid crisis.

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Dark at the Crossing

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“I think that’s one of the great things that fiction has the power to do: it allows you to create a character, a character you might find despicable or with whom you might not agree, but then give them the power to basically make their case as though they were making it before God.” Elliot Ackerman talks to PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown about his second novel, Dark at the Crossing (Knopf, 2017), which is a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award in fiction.

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Brief but Spectacular With Lisa Lucas

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“They make us more empathetic. They connect us to one another. They make people who are not like us more human.” Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation, shares her love of books and why reading them is so important for PBS NewsHour’s “Brief but Spectacular” series.

Remembering John Ashbery

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“Poetry comes to me out of thin air or out of my unconscious mind. It’s sort of the way dreams come to us…” In this PBS NewsHour video, Jeffrey Brown revisits a conversation with John Ashbery from 2007 in which he speaks about his life as a poet and reads from his collection Notes From the Air: Selected Later Poems (Ecco, 2007). Ashbery died on September 3, 2017 at the age of ninety.

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David Sedaris’s Process

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“Usually it’s the worst thing you can admit about yourself that most people can relate to.” David Sedaris, whose latest book, Theft by Finding: Diaries (1922–2002) (Little, Brown, 2017), is an edited compilation of his diary entries, expresses his thoughts on working on drafts and combining laughter with sorrow in this PBS NewsHour video. David Sedaris Diaries: A Visual Compendium (Little, Brown, 2017), edited and photographed by artist Jeffrey Jenkins, is featured in “The Written Image” in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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