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Remembering Sekou Sundiata, Poet of Sound

Poet Sekou Sundiata died this week at age 58; the cause was heart failure. Sundiata, who taught literature at New York City's New School University for many years, was considered one of the fathers of the spoken-word movement. He wrote the plays Blessing the Boats, The Circle Unbroken is a Hard Bop, The Mystery of Love, Udu, and the 51st (dream) state. His albums include Longstoryshort and The Blue Oneness of Dreams. We remember him with excerpts from interviews that originally aired in May 1994, April 1997, and November 2002.


Poet Natasha Trethewey, Hymning the Native Guard

Natasha Trethewey was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Native Guard, her most recent collection of poetry. The title refers to a regiment of African- American soldiers who fought for the Union in the Civil War.

Trethewey grew up the child of a racially mixed marriage in Mississippi. Her mother was murdered by her stepfather; these, along with the South and its singular ways, are recurring themes in her poetry.

Trethewey teaches creative writing at Emory University. Native Guard is her third collection.


Poet Mary Karr: 'Sinners Welcome'

Syracuse English professor Mary Karr is the author of two bestselling memoirs, The Liars' Club and Cherry. She has won Pushcart prizes for both her poetry and essays. Her new book of poems is Sinners Welcome.


Leonard Cohen's 'Book of Longing'

Leonard Cohen's poetry career began 50 years ago with the 1956 publication of Let Us Compare Mythologies. His new volume of poetry is called Book of Longing. Cohen, known better as the deep-voiced writer of songs that straddle the folk-rock fence, is also working on an upcoming album to be released later this year.

Musician Leonard Cohen singing on stage in a black suit and hat

Newsroom Poetry

Poet David Tucker is the assistant managing editor of The New Jersey Star Ledger and was part of the team that won the Pulitzer last year for breaking news. His new collection of poems is called Late for Work.


Arnold Rampersad, Telling the Langston Hughes Story

Arnold Rampersad edited The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry. His two-volume biography of writer Langston Hughes is now out in a second edition. It was praised by critics as one of the best biographies of a black American writer. He's associate dean for the humanities at Stanford University.


Promoting the Memorization of Poetry

The publishers of Poetry Magazine have been using the proceeds of a large bequest to encourage the practice of memorizing poetry. Linguist Geoff Nunberg comments.


Poet and NEA Chairman Dana Gioia

In addition to heading the National Endowment for the Arts, Gioia (pronounced JOY-ah) is the author of several collections of poetry, including Interrogations at Noon. He has also translated the poetry of Italian Nobel Prize winner Eugenio Montale. Before he quit to become a poet, Gioia was a vice president at General Foods.


Poet Elizabeth Gold

She's the author of the new memoir, Brief Intervals of Horrible Sanity: One Season in a Progressive School. It's about her brief stint as a midyear replacement English teacher in Queens, N.Y. Gold teaches writing at several branches of the City University of New York.


Editor and poet Harvey Shapiro

He has compiled a new anthology of 120 poems, titled Poets of World War II (American Poets Project). The poets include Kenneth Koch, James Dickey, Richard Hugo, Marianne Moore and Robert Lowell. Some of the poets have experienced combat, others have not. Shapiro is a decorated veteran of World War II; he flew 35 missions as an Air Force radio gunner.


Poet Sam Hamill

In January, Hamill was invited by first lady Laura Bush to the White House for a symposium on poetry. Because of his opposition to the war it was not an invitation he welcomed. In response, he created the Web site Thousands of poets responded, including Rita Dove, W.S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich and Poet Laureate Billy Collins. When the White House heard about the site, the symposium was cancelled. A new anthology, Poets Against The War, collects 13,000 of these anti-war poems.


Classical Music Critic Lloyd Schwartz

Lloyd Schwartz on poet Elizabeth Bishop and how he saved a poem of hers from obscurity. It's called "Breakfast Song." Lloyd is the editor of Elizabeth Bishop and Her Art (University of Michigan Press). The poem will be published in the upcoming issue of The New Yorker.


Performance poet Sekou Sundiata

He is one of New York's most notable spoken-word artists. He blends lyrics of urban dwelling with music. Born in Harlem, Sundiata is a professor of English literature at The New School for Social Research. He's released CDs of spoken word including The Blue Oneness of Dreams and Urban Music. This week, Sundiata premieres his new one-man show blessing the boats. It's about the year his kidney failed, he went into dialysis and then had a kidney transplant.


Poet Sharon Olds

Poet Sharon Olds. Her new collection of poems is The Unswept Room. She has a number of previous collections, including Satan Says and The Dead and the Living. Olds was the New York State Poet Laureate from 1998 to 2000. She teaches poetry workshops in the Graduate Creative Writing Program at New York University.


Performance poet Sekou Sundiata

Performance poet Sekou Sundiata. He is one of New York's notable spoken word artists, blending lyrics of urban dwelling with music. Born in Harlem, he is a professor of English Literature at The New School for Social Research. He's released several CDs of his work, including The Blue Oneness of Dreams and Urban Music. He's published a new journal (in pamphlet form), Heart: Human Equity Through Art.


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