Poetry Off the Shelf

By Poetry Foundation

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 Jan 8, 2020


Producer Helena de Groot explores the diverse world of contemporary poetry with readings by poets, interviews with critics, and short poetry documentaries. Nothing is off limits, and nobody is taken too seriously

Episode Date
The Fire This Time

Gwendolyn Brooks, Elizabeth Alexander, and Haki Madhubuti on Americas perennial struggle to recognize that Black Lives Matter.

Jun 03, 2020
I Come From Love

Nikky Finney on her father, her childhood, and the memories that made her.

May 26, 2020
Phillis Reimagined

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers on listening to her ancestors.

May 12, 2020
Poverty’s History, Episode 1: In the Beginning Was the Word

The first installment of a special series about the intersections between poetry and poverty.

Apr 29, 2020
The Invention of the Self

Peter Murphy on a 16th-century poem that still speaks to us today.

Apr 14, 2020
Our New Reality

Quarantined with kids, Zoom chats, and stranded abroad: eight poets on what life is like for them these days.

Mar 31, 2020
Poems You Can Touch

Dorianne Laux on her favorite shirt, ugly California, and bringing her mother back to life.

Mar 17, 2020
The Eternal Present

Biographer Jonathan Blunk on the life and longing of James Wright.

Mar 03, 2020
The Eternal Present

Biographer Jonathan Blunk on the life and longing of James Wright.

Mar 03, 2020
The Sovereign Poet

Layli Long Soldier on the sacred and the useful.

Feb 18, 2020
The Truth Sometimes Rhymes

Jericho Brown wants to make rebellious art.

Feb 04, 2020
Fragments from the Future

Brenda Shaughnessy stares her fears in the face.

Jan 21, 2020
Dreams and Fathers

Bruce Beasley on his writing process, and on how fathers might be like warm ice cubes.

Jan 07, 2020
Poets We Lost This Year

Timothy Liu remembers the life and work of his friend Linda Gregg, plus readings by Marie Ponsot and W.S. Merwin.

Dec 18, 2019
The Point of Poetry

Matthew Zapruder on dreams, silence, and smoking with Brodsky.

Dec 03, 2019
How to Triumph Like a Girl

Ada Limón is done with hiding in poems.

Nov 19, 2019
A Presence in the Sky

Fanny Howe gives away the secret to being cavalier and brave.

Nov 05, 2019
The Garden We Share

Ross Gay finds joy in life that outlives us.

Oct 22, 2019
After Fear and Raging

Toi Derricotte on feeling part of something bigger.

Oct 01, 2019
Hope in Odd Places

Sally Wen Mao reanimates the past.

Sep 10, 2019
Back to School

Two teachers on life through children's eyes.

Aug 27, 2019
What Happened to House Calls?

The healthcare industry through the eyes of two doctor-poets.

Aug 13, 2019
Lichen Doesn't Die

Forrest Gander talks about love, loss, and the remarkable properties of lichen.

Jul 23, 2019
The Young People's Poet Laureate

Naomi Shihab Nye talks about a trunk full of treasures, childhood in Palestine, and her grandson's poetic bone. 

Jul 02, 2019
Speaking for the Country

A look into the various approaches to the U.S. poet laureate position.

Jun 18, 2019
Whitman and our Warming World

On Whitman's bicentennial, a contemporary poet finds a Whitmanic kinship with wonder, language, and the environment.

Jun 04, 2019
The Past Talks Back

Marilyn Nelson's poetic legacy, through the eyes of one of her many protégés, Tyehimba Jess.

May 21, 2019
The Language of Ramadan

Two Muslim American poets discuss the intersections between poetry and Ramadan.

May 07, 2019
The Language of Ramadan

Two Muslim American poets discuss the intersections between poetry and Ramadan.

May 07, 2019
What You Have Heard is True

Carolyn Forché discusses her memoir of the same title, about her time in pre-civil war El Salvador in the late 1970s.

Apr 23, 2019
The Populist Soviet Poet

The life and legacy of Vladimir Mayakovsky.

Apr 02, 2019
The Poetry of Jean Valentine

Reading a trailblazing second-wave feminist poet.

Mar 19, 2019
A Change of World documentary: Poetry and the Women's Movement

Meryl Streep narrates our hour-long radio documentary special about how the Women’s Movement changed poetry, and how women poets changed the culture.

Mar 01, 2019
Some Love Poems for Your Sweetie

Poems in time for Valentine's Day.

Feb 05, 2019
100 Years of Robert Duncan

A look into Duncan's poems on the centenary of his birth.

Jan 22, 2019
Drinking in Poetry

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Prohibition in the U.S., we discuss drinking poems over a few cocktails.

Jan 08, 2019
Poets We Lost in 2018

Remembering and listening to those who died this year.

Dec 25, 2018
100 Years of Hopkins

The centenary of the first volume by Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Jesuit Victorian experimentalist was posthumously published among the Modernists.

Dec 11, 2018
A Break from it All

Looking back in a meditative mood around Thanksgiving.

Nov 20, 2018
The Poetry of Politics

Poetry's possible liberty or obligations in the wake of the US midterm elections.

Nov 13, 2018
Poetry and/or Advertising

What copywriting and poetry have in common.

Oct 30, 2018
Poetry Rituals

Exploring exercises to be more present in your life and writing.

Oct 16, 2018
The Past is Present

Rereading the great modern Greek poet C.P. Cavafy.

Oct 02, 2018
Poems from the Inside

During the current nationwide prison strike, we look back at Etheridge Knight's influential poems he wrote while incarcerated.

Sep 11, 2018
This Poet Never Gets Old

John Keats's life and body of work, then and now.

Aug 28, 2018
The Robots are Coming to Class

Reading and exploring poetry along with students this school year.

Aug 14, 2018
Retelling the American Story

Tracy K. Smith discusses her new book and her tenure as current US poet laureate.

Jul 31, 2018
The Man is There ... in the Tape

Remembering Donald Hall and his advocacy for archival audio recordings of poets.

Jul 18, 2018
Poems Don't Need Their Papers

For July 4, we talk about US immigration, Central American refugees, and poems across borders with Javier Zamora.

Jul 03, 2018

Poems about soccer, aka football, aka the beautiful game, in time for the World Cup.

Jun 19, 2018
Poetry Live to Tape

When poets used tape recorders to compose not for the page, but for the audio environment.

Jun 05, 2018
Prosey Poems

Maureen McLane on semi-autobiographical epic poems, narrative melodrama, and the dissociation of sensibility.

May 22, 2018
Burning for Justice

Exploring the work of the 2018 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner Martín Espada.

May 08, 2018
A Change of World, Episode 6: New Waves

The legacy of second-wave feminism through the lens of anthologies, and the ongoing pursuit of equality and inclusion.

Apr 25, 2018
A Change of World, Episode 5: Poetry Gives Birth

How women poets made birth, motherhood, and parenting central preoccupations of contemporary poetry, just as it is in life.

Apr 10, 2018
A Change of World, Episode 4 : A Place of Permission

In the '70s, poetry workshops run by women, for women, sprang up in cities around the country. They mirrored what was happening in the women’s movement, and they became communities unto themselves.

Apr 03, 2018
A Change of World, Episode 3: Shattering the Blue Velvet Chair

Our series dedicated to the women's movement continues with the changing cultural roles of the 1970s, when women poets refused to be marginalized or tokenized, and public poetry readings and writing workshops for women spread across the U.S.

Mar 20, 2018
A Change of World, Episode 2: Books that Broke Down Barriers

The second episode of our special series exploring poetry and the women's movement looks at several books in the 1960s and '70s that fought for a place for women.

Mar 13, 2018
A Change of World, Episode 1: The Wilderness

The first episode in a special series on the women’s movement

Mar 06, 2018
The Poet's Revenge

Shelley's famous poem “Ozymandias” is germane 200 years after its publication.

Feb 27, 2018
The Poetics of Mass Murder

Poems responding to past gun violence, mass murders, and school shootings.

Feb 20, 2018
Three Ways of Looking at a Rose

For Valentines's Day, three poems exploring the most common symbol in love poetry.

Feb 13, 2018
The Poet and the Riot

Shortly after Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968, Gwendolyn Brooks wrote a poem about the power of riots.

Feb 06, 2018
Drinking Poetry

Jeff Gordinier and Rosie Schapp discuss poetry over a few cocktails.

Jan 09, 2018
Some Poems of Transcendent Surrender

Spencer Reece discusses classic and contemporary religious poems for this time of year.

Dec 26, 2017
The New Woman of Her Day

Millay's legacy, upon the centennial of her first book, Renascence and Other Poems (1917).

Dec 12, 2017
The Poet is Distracted

Distraction may actually be at the heart of poetry.

Nov 28, 2017
Poems that Knock it out of the Park

Poems about baseball, in time for the World Series.

Nov 01, 2017
From Sickness into Poetry

Meaghan O'Rourke discusses how the experience of illness has informed her poetry.

Oct 10, 2017
Who Reads Poetry

Poetry magazine publishes a selection of their ‘View from Here’ essays in a new book, Who Reads Poetry.

Sep 26, 2017
The Late Great John Ashbery

Ashbery's poems can be a new way of seeing and experiencing things, a "daydream from which there's no obvious exit," an ode to neglected emotions or the insignificant, an inside joke you may or may not be in on, and a reordering of the world and ourselves.

Sep 12, 2017
Teaching Poetry in Times Like These

Our back-to-school episode covers alternative approaches to poetry, including student choice.

Aug 29, 2017
“It's the Language, Stupid.”

Matthew Zapruder discusses the role of language and meaning in poetry and his book of criticism, Why Poetry.

Aug 15, 2017
If They Should Come for Us

Fatimah Asghar on telling the stories that need to be told, in poetry and on television.

Aug 01, 2017
50 Years of The Lice

A deep look into W.S. Merwin's influential book, which speaks to our moment 50 years after its publication.

Jul 05, 2017
The New Young People's Poet Laureate

Margarita Engle on the subject of her poetry, and her message to young readers.

Jun 20, 2017
The Poetry and Music of Joy Harjo

This year's Lilly Prize winner discusses the intersection of poetry and music, as well as the women's rights and Indigenous rights movements that much her poetry is borne out of.

Jun 06, 2017
The Radical Perception of Larry Eigner

An appreciation of an underrecognized poet's vision, lyricism, fragments, and humor

May 16, 2017
The Pulse of American Poetry

A new anthology collects poems addressing our current political climate.

May 02, 2017
The Poetry of Everyday Life

How we use poetry to find meaning and to bring disparate aspects of life together.

Apr 18, 2017
The Achievements of Derek Walcott

Remembering the Nobel Laureate's poetry upon his death, and the commitment to the arts and humanties

Mar 22, 2017
Lowell as Teacher

Robert Lowell’s former students look back on their poetry classes with an American master.

Mar 07, 2017
Walt Whitman's Divided America

As one of the U.S.'s greatest patriots and most trenchant critics of his time, Whitman never lost hope in his country.

Feb 21, 2017
Is your sweetheart edible?

The late Carolyn Kizer on the erotic side of love

Feb 08, 2017
Poetry Stars in a Movie

Ron Padgett on having his poems appear in Jim Jarmusch's film Paterson.

Jan 24, 2017
The Poets We Lost in 2016

Listening to some of the poets who died this year

Dec 20, 2016
More Poetry in the Aftermath

Two additional poets react to the U.S. presidential election

Dec 07, 2016
Poetry in the Aftermath

Responses to last week's U.S. presidential election

Nov 15, 2016
Addiction Poetry

What poetry has to say about substance abuse, and how some poems can help. 

Nov 01, 2016
Death and Donald Revell

Making peace with the grief and release of death

Oct 18, 2016
A Misunderstood Chestnut

The different ways of reading a classic American poem

Oct 04, 2016
11 Years of Poetry Out Loud

Over three million high school students have participated in this recitation contest.

Sep 20, 2016
Poetry as Play

Giving children the permission to be free.

Sep 06, 2016
Mothers of Boys

The many successes of Cave Canem.

Aug 22, 2016
A First Book 50 Years Later

Looking at Seamus Heaney's debut, Death of a Naturalist

Aug 09, 2016
Middle Passage

Robert Hayden's harrowing narrative poem on the slave trade

Aug 04, 2016
Extreme Exposure

Two poets who are applying new uses of language to approach social issues

Jul 26, 2016
The Achievement of Geoffrey Hill

Yezzi looks into Geoffrey Hill's poetry upon Hill's death

Jul 12, 2016
Everyone Always Gets Lost

Gay Pride in the shadow of the Orlando nightclub shooting

Jun 28, 2016
Fathers Never Die

The poignancy of Father's Day, for those who have lost their fathers

Jun 15, 2016
The Inner Life in the Age of Social Media

Making money from poetry, and opting to be forgotten

Jun 01, 2016
The Uses of Anger

Audre Lorde then and now

May 17, 2016
The New Motherhood Poem

Recent approaches to poetry, from the perspective of mothers

May 03, 2016
Who Are They Anyway?

Old and new poems about unnamed lovers

Apr 18, 2016
Poetry and PTSD

The skeptical, clear-eyed poetry of Alan Dugan

Apr 04, 2016
The Trouble with Spring

Poems to mark a new, fragile season

Mar 22, 2016
50 Years of Ariel

The legacy of Plath's posthumous classic

Mar 08, 2016
The Language of Violence
Danez Smith and Brian Russell examine how we label acts of violence, and the power of poetry to connect the political with the deeply personal.
Feb 24, 2016
The Problem of Love
On two recent, complicated love poems
Feb 10, 2016
Excuse Me While I Offend You

All about flarf.

Feb 10, 2016
A Radical Poet's Radical Poet
Lola Ridge's poetry of social protest
Jan 27, 2016
Some Words for a Newborn Daughter
Hannah Gamble and Roger Reeves talk about girlhood and growing up in the Pentecostal Church. 
Jan 13, 2016
Poets We've Lost
Remembering and celebrating some of the poets who died in 2015
Dec 23, 2015
Explicit Lyrics
Erika L. Sánchez and Jacob Saenz talk about sex in music and poetry.
Nov 25, 2015
All Artists Are Dogs
James Merrill envisions the figure of the artist through the ears of a dog
Nov 11, 2015
Social Media, Race, and Disney Princesses
Franny Choi and Saeed Jones blend poetry and culture.
Oct 28, 2015
A Very Short, Very Famous Poem
Looking back at Robert Creeley's “I Know a Man”
Oct 07, 2015
A Great Poet of Love and War
Yehuda Amichai's poetry in translation, 15 years after death
Sep 23, 2015
The Poet and the Riot
Sep 09, 2015
Ten Years Later
The devastation of Hurricane Katrina remembered in poems
Aug 24, 2015
Making the Case for Poetry
Inviting classroom fun through songs and speeches
Aug 12, 2015
For Love of Russia

Poems by Anna Akhmatova set to music by Iris DeMent

Jul 29, 2015
The Poetry Inside of Words
A look at Paul Celan's later poems
Jul 15, 2015
Red, White, and Gray

Two diverging views of the 4th of July

Jul 01, 2015
Poems to Read at Gay and Lesbian Weddings

Celebrating queer love and same-sex marriage.

Jun 26, 2015
Fathers and Sons
Two very different poems for Father's Day
Jun 17, 2015
The Next Poet Laureate
The poetry and activism of Juan Felipe Herrera
Jun 10, 2015