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30 Poets, 30 Days for National Poetry Month

April 10, 2017

30 Poets, 30 Days

Later this year, we’ll toss up the proverbial confetti and celebrate 60 years of TPT history. In those six decades, our programming has featured a stunning array of poets reading, singing, rapping and performing their work.

Poetry isn’t simply a form of entertainment or an abstract piece of intellectual furniture fit for the Ivory Tower. Ever since human beings developed a more symbolic understanding of the world, storytelling became ritual. Much of that storytelling was expressed in poetry. And poetry can be mean or mundane, brutal or beautiful. It fuels political movements. It tells the truth about the immigrant experience, about injustice, about love. It captures the serenity of the natural world and the chaos of urban industry.

It can focus on the delicate bones of the inner ear as its subject and scream so much more.

Whether a poem rhymes or slants, bends or seems to bubble – whether it’s set to music or involves only the voice as instrument – it can change the way you see the world around you. It can stick with you.

So it’s fitting that there’s an entire month to celebrate the art form – and that month is April. Every day this month, TPT – along with our friends at Almanac and MN Original – will be sharing a video of a poet reading his or her work. After a month of listening to some of the most gifted local and national poets, you might be inspired to write one.

For this project – called “30 Poets, 30 Days” – Almanac producer and TPT historian Brendan Henehan went deep into the archives to find an amazing collection of poets and poems. In his words:

“There are some gems on the list. A powerful Robert Bly poem. Bill Holm and Patricia Hampl and Jim Northrup reading their own work. There are fresh voices too. A stunning collaboration between Tish Jones and Robert Robinson. A sublime poem by Saymoukda Vongsay. Passionate spoken word performances by Fres Thao and Abdi Phenomenal. Most of the writers call Minnesota home but national voices join in the fun. Maya Angelou makes an appearance. Yusef Komunyakaa and Elizabeth Alexander read moving poems of race and war. Nikki Giovanni recites two love poems that will make you smile. And – in the most surprising discovery of all – we bring you an astounding musical version of Alfred Noyes’ “The Highwayman” performed by the Minnesota reggae band Ipso Facto.

All of these selections were created over the years by my talented friends and colleagues at Twin Cities PBS. Kudos to them. Some clips stretch back in time four decades. The most recent was produced just months ago. As with all creative projects, these were true labors of love.”

Enjoy. We hope you dream in poetry.

More “30 Poets, 30 Days”

© Twin Cities Public Television - 2017. All rights reserved.

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