On Thursday, W.S. Merwin was named the 17th poet laureate of the United States. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, known for his environmental activism, joined Fresh Air's Terry Gross in 2008 for a discussion about memory, mortality and his writing process
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.
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.
Ted Kooser won the 2005 Pulitzer prize for poetry and publishes American Life in Poetry, a free weekly column for newspapers and websites that provides a brief poem and description as a way to bring verse to the masses. His poems are about the simple details of everyday life.
Our classical music critic Lloyd Schwartz joins us to talk about his new book of poems, “Cairo Traffic.” (University of Chicago Press) Lloyd is professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston and writes about classical music for the Boston Phoenix. In 1994, he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.
On today’s archive edition of Fresh Air, we honor National Poetry month. First, we feature an interview with Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass. (Rhymes with "grass"). Hass served as Laureate from 1995-1997. He won the National Book Critics Circle award for poetry for his book "Sun Under Wood" (Ecco Press). He's written several other books of poetry including "Praise" and "Human Wishes." He also edited "The Essential Haiku: Versions of Basho, Buson & Issa." (Ecco Press).
Poet Billy Collins. His books include "Picnic, Lightning" (Univ of Pittsburgh), "The Art of Drowning" (Univ of Pittsburgh Press), and "Questions about Angels" (William Morrow & Co.), which was selected as a winner of the National Poetry Series Competition in 1990. John Updike says of Collins' poetry, "Billy Collins writes lovely poems. . .
Poet David Lehman is the editor of “The Best American Poetry” and on the faculty of Bennington College and The New School. His new book of poems chronicles his attempt to write a poem a day. It’s called “The Daily Mirror: a journal in poetry.” (Scribner)
Poet Jane Kenyon. She was married to poet Donald Hall who was also her former teacher. She died in 1995. Kenyon's books of poetry include Boat of Quiet Hours and Let Evening Come. Her collection of poems, Otherwise was published shortly after her death in 1995 of leukemia. The new book A Hundred White Daffodils (Consortium Books) is a posthumous collection of her prose and poetry. (REBROADCAST from 9/1/93)