Poetry in America

Watch Poetry in America

  • TV-PG
  • 2018
  • 3 Seasons
  • 8.9  (30)

Poetry in America is a mesmerizing series that explores the power of poetry and the social impact of its language on the human mind, culture, and history. The show is produced by Verse Video Education and hosted by acclaimed Harvard professor Elisa New. The show features a diverse range of guests from the literary world and beyond, including renowned poets, writers, scholars, musicians, actors, and activists.

The show is divided into hour-long episodes, each focused on a single poem, ranging from the classics to contemporary works. The featured poems are carefully selected based on their relevance to the current social issues and their potential for sparking thought-provoking discussions. The show's masterful combination of poetry, music, and visual arts creates a captivating viewing experience that engages the viewer's imagination and emotions.

Throughout the series, Professor New guides the viewers through the literary analysis of each poem, breaking down its structure, language, symbolism, and overall significance. Her insightful commentary is accompanied by interviews with guests who offer a unique perspective on the poem's themes and relevance to their own personal experiences.

One of the most noteworthy episodes of Poetry in America features the rapper Nas, who reads and discusses his own rap song, "It Ain't Hard to Tell," alongside the classic poem, "Sonnet 18" by William Shakespeare. Nas, also known as Nasir Jones, shares his own experiences growing up in the Queensbridge housing project in New York City, and how poetry and music played a crucial role in his life. He discusses the connection between Shakespeare's timeless sonnet and the themes present in his own rap song, such as the struggle for self-expression and the quest for artistic validation.

Another memorable episode of the show features Tony Kushner, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, who reads and discusses the poignant poem, "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus. The poem, famously inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, speaks to the values of freedom and democracy that the United States was founded upon. Kushner shares his own thoughts on the meaning and relevance of the poem in today's political climate, particularly in regards to immigration and the treatment of refugees.

Throughout the series, the show's guests also perform readings of the featured poems, often accompanied by music and visual art. These performances bring the poems to life and showcase the beauty and power of language in a way that resonates with the viewer on a visceral level.

In addition to its entertainment value, Poetry in America offers an educational experience that is accessible to viewers of all ages and backgrounds. The show's engaging format and diverse range of guests foster critical thinking and encourage the viewer to explore their own personal connection to poetry and literature.

Overall, Poetry in America is a thought-provoking and inspiring series that celebrates the art of poetry and its ability to connect us to one another and to the world around us. With its dynamic format and insightful commentary, this show is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates the power of language and its impact on our lives.

Poetry in America is a series that is currently running and has 3 seasons (28 episodes). The series first aired on March 28, 2018.

Poetry in America
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Sonnet IV; I shall forget you presently, my dear
8. Sonnet IV; I shall forget you presently, my dear
March 11, 2022
In 1920s Greenwich Village, Edna St. Vincent Millay wrote sonnets that toppled clich
Rabbits and Fire and Bear Fat
7. Rabbits and Fire and Bear Fat
March 4, 2022
Two poems, by Linda Hogan and Alberto Rios, follow wolves, jackrabbits, and other animals across the harsh Great Plains and Sonoran Desert. Both poets join wildlife biologist Jeff Corwin, film director Chris Eyre, Native American scholars Philip Deloria and Stephanie Fitzgerald, and a chorus of students to discuss how the poems call back difficult histories of human migration in the American west.
The Language of the Brag and the Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters
6. The Language of the Brag and the Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters
February 25, 2022
Sharon Olds' The Language of the Brag and Bernadette Mayer's The Desires of Mothers to Please Others in Letters are exuberant, boisterous tributes to motherhood. Both poets join host Elisa New, actor Donna Lynne Champlin, writer Emily Oster, activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, obstetrician Lorna Wilkerson, and co-founders of Our Bodies Ourselves to explore the miracle, and mess, of creating new life.
Mending Wall
5. Mending Wall
February 18, 2022
Do good fences really make good neighbors? Robert Frost's Mending Wall asks surprising questions about the role of walls in civil society. Host Elisa New gathers Ambassador Caroline Kennedy, author Julia Alvarez, political commentator David Gergen, Frost biographer and poet Jay Parini, poet Rhina Espaillat, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith to delve into this classic poem.
you can say that again, billie
4. you can say that again, billie
February 11, 2022
Billie Holiday's haunting song Strange Fruit winds beneath the unsettling, satiric humor of Evie Shockley's poem you can say that again, billie. Shockley, jazz singer Cassandra Wilson, historian Robin D.G. Kelley, actor LisaGay Hamilton, novelist Beverly Lowry, and radio host Nick Spitzer join Elisa New to discuss the history of racism, violence, and artistic tradition in the American south.
Cascadilla Falls
3. Cascadilla Falls
February 4, 2022
Picking up a hand-sized stone near a rushing waterfall, the speaker of A.R. Ammons's poem Cascadilla Falls is catapulted into the cosmos. Planetary scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton, composer DJ Spooky, geologist Daniel Schrag, poet Joshua Bennett, CEO Larry Berger, and philosopher Rebecca Goldstein join host Elisa New to consider Ammons's window onto the vast workings of the universe.
Looking for the Gulf Motel
2. Looking for the Gulf Motel
January 28, 2022
Richard Blanco's poem "Looking for The Gulf Motel" transports readers to 1970s Florida, recalling a Cuban American family's vacations on the sparkling sands of Marco Island. Blanco and international superstar Gloria Estefan join Elisa New and a chorus of Cuban American adults in Miami and middle school students in New York City to reflect on family and what it means to call a place home.
The Wound-Dresser
1. The Wound-Dresser
January 21, 2022
Explore Walt Whitman's The Wound-Dresser, set in the battlefield infirmaries and operating theaters of 1860s Washington, D.C. Actor David Strathairn, playwright Tony Kushner, composer Matthew Aucoin, opera star Davone Tines, physician-writers Rafael Campo and Abraham Verghese, and historian Drew Faust join Elisa New to discuss how the trauma of the Civil War shaped American history.
Where to Watch Poetry in America
Poetry in America is available for streaming on the Verse Video Education website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch Poetry in America on demand at Apple TV Channels, Amazon Prime, Amazon, Kanopy, Hoopla, Apple TV and PBS.
  • Premiere Date
    March 28, 2018
  • IMDB Rating
    8.9  (30)