Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey’s second-term project, “Where Poetry Lives,” has offered her the opportunity to see first-hand how poetry strengthens our communities. She has travelled from coast-to-coast and met people from different backgrounds and at different parts of their lives, all of whom connected to her and to each other through the art.
I wrote blogs announcing the launch and celebrating the midway point of Natasha’s project; now I write to let you know the fourth segment will be aired tonight. I had the opportunity to accompany Natasha and the NewsHour crew again—this time to find out about Seattle nonprofit Pongo Teen Writing. We visited the King County Youth Services Center, and in the juvenile detention center there we witnessed teens write, then read, heart-wrenching poems. Later, a judge from the courts upstairs came to the detention center—not a place judges usually go—to talk about the difference Pongo’s work was making.
It was a powerful experience, and I think the resulting segment will fit perfectly into the series. And now all of the content from the series—the segments themselves as well as additional content the NewsHour staff have created—lives on one website. Please take the opportunity to visit “Where Poetry Lives” and check out any and all of the posts/videos you haven’t seen.
As much as this project has followed in the tradition of past Laureate projects, and has come out of Natasha’s belief in poetry’s universal reach, it would not exist without both the Poetry Foundation and PBS NewsHour. The foundation supports the NewsHour Poetry Series, which has for years highlighted contemporary poets and poetry. I would specifically like to mention NewsHour Chief Correspondent for Arts, Culture, and Society, Jeffrey Brown—the correspondent responsible for the Poetry Series and “Where Poetry Lives.” His efforts to champion poetry in the media have served as a ringing counterpoint to mainstream media assertions that poetry is elitist, obtuse, irrelevant. Jeff’s new essay, “Reporting News,” gives a great sense of his dedication, his wealth of knowledge and experience, and his insight. I am honored to work with him and the rest of the NewsHour staff, and with our Laureate, as we finish traveling to a few of the many, many places where poetry lives.