Baraka was one of the key black literary voices of the 1960s. The political and social views that inspired his writing changed over the years, from his bohemian days as a young man in Greenwich Village to his later years as a Marxist. He spoke to Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 1986.
In Peter Heller's debut novel, The Dog Stars, a man named Hig survives a superflu that kills most of humanity. Heller, a travel and adventure writer, says that when his novel took a post-apocalyptic turn, he found himself relying on his real-life scrapes and survival skills.
Kin: Songs By Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell is a new collaboration between Karr, the bestselling author and poet, and the maverick singer-songwriter. Together, they've written 10 songs, which are performed on the album by a variety of singers, including Norah Jones, Rosanne Cash and Emmylou Harris.
The 83-year-old former poet laureate reflects on how life has changed as he's grown older. "My body causes me trouble when I cross the room, but when I am sitting down writing, I am in my heaven — my old heaven," he says.
Country singer-songwriter Darrell Scott grew up performing with his father, Wayne. Last month, Darrell was in Texas in between gigs when he learned that his father had died in a car accident. Here, he reflects on his father's life and death, and reads a poem he wrote about his dad.
"Poetry holds the knowledge that we are alive and that we know we're going to die," poet Marie Howe tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. One of Howe's most famous poems, "What the Living Do," was recently included in The Penguin Anthology of 20th-Century American Poetry.
Landesman, a songwriter and poet who wrote the words to the jazz standard "Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most," died on July 23. She was 83. Fresh Air remembers the iconoclastic lyricist with highlights from a 1988 interview.
In a new memoir, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Natasha Trethewey revisits her own memories of the Gulf Coast region, and details how members of her family worked to rebuild their lives after the storm. She asks how the identity of the Gulf will be remembered — and how the region's stories will be told.
Lyndall Gordon's Lives Like Loaded Guns explores the family secrets of the reclusive 19th-century poet. Gordon theorizes that Dickinson may have been epileptic, and describes the cult-generational family feud over the posthumous publication of the poet's work.
Poet Jehanne Dubrow shares several poems from her third poetry collection, Stateside, about her experience as a Navy wife, trying to understand her own life while waiting for her spouse to return from war.
Robert Hass, the former poet laureate of the United States, explores one of Walt Whitman's most iconic poems, Song of Myself — and shares his opinion about why the poem still resonates 155 years after it was written.
The former poet laureate reflects on his brother's passing in the new poem "August Notebook: A Death." The elegy is included in Hass' new collection, The Apple Trees at Olema, which includes material from his first five works — as well as new poems on the art of storytelling and personal relations in a violent world.
It was in 1967, on her first day in New York, that 20-year-old aspiring poet Patti Smith met fellow artist Robert Mapplethorpe. Their friendship, romance and creative collaboration began on that day and lasted until Mapplethorpe's death in 1989.
During his lifetime, South African poet Dennis Brutus made incredible contributions to the fight against apartheid. Brutus died on December 26, 2009, after successfully battling segregation in athletics with global recognition. Fresh Air remembers the life and achievements of Brutus in this interview from 1986
This interview was originally broadcast on April 22, 1986.