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The Genius of Poetry: a Profile of Heather McHugh

"For me, the whole point of poetry is to liberate the larger sense," says Heather McHugh. "A great paradox of poetry is the smallest unit of language you can make that releases the greatest number of readings." In September, she was named a MacArthur Fellow, receiving $500,000 in “no strings attached” support over the next five years. 5:21

NewsHour Poetry Series

The Poetry Series, featured on the PBS NewsHour and funded by the Poetry Foundation, engages a broader audience with poetry through a series of thoughtful, in-depth reports on contemporary poets and poetry.

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Poet Nancy Mercado Reflects on 9/11
Nancy Mercado wrote about what she lost when the World Trade Center Towers came down. 7:30

Poet Billy Collins Reflects on 9/11
Billy Collins read "The Names" before a special joint session of Congress in 2002, and again on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 for the NewsHour. 11:32

Ernesto Cardenal Explores Humanity Through Cosmos 
Ernesto Cardenal is known as one of Latin America's greatest living poets. 6:39

New US Poet Laureate Philip Levine Recalls Life at the Factory
A profile of Philip Levine, a former auto worker who became a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and the nation’s current Poet Laureate. 6:34

Floods, Fires, Storms Are Fodder for Centuries of Poems
This year has seen intense floods, fires, and storms across the country and around the world. We visited poet Jeffrey Yang, who recently edited a collection of poetry chronicling how writers . . . 3:11

Catching Up With Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky
Much of former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky's writing has focused on American life. He takes a look back at his career with Jeffrey Brown. 8:09

Life on Mars: Space Exploration Through Poetry
Life on Mars, Tracy K. Smith's third book, explores the cosmos through words. The Princeton creative writing professor and poet reflects on the relationship between our lives and the . . .

C.D. Wright Examines a Civil Rights Era Event in Verse
Weaving oral histories, hymns, lists, interviews, newspaper accounts and personal memories, poet C.D. Wright explores a Civil Rights Era event in her native state of Arkansas. 5:26

University of Iowa Writers' Workshop Turns 75
The Iowa Writers' Workshop, the nation's oldest and most prestigious postgraduate writing program for elite writers and poets, celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. 7:54

Benghazi-Born Poet Mattawa Reflects on Growing Up under Gadhafi
Personal reflections on the crisis in Libya from poet Khaled Mattawa. 7:08

Virginia Poet Charles Wright Explores “Inexhaustible Power of Words”
Poet Charles Wright has authored more than 20 books of verse and won numerous awards. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author reads some of his work and shares his sources of inspiration. 3:44

In Haiti, Artists Create Poetry Amid the Rubble
The story of Haitian poets and artists surviving—and creating—amid the rubble of last year’s earthquake. 8:02

In Haiti, Writer Kwame Dawes Tells of Quake Aftermath Through Poetry
In collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, poet Kwame Dawes has been traveling to Haiti over the past year to report and write poems that capture the human side of the . . . 11:09

Profile of Boise, Idaho-based Poet Karena Youtz
Poet and lyricist Karena Youtz shares her most recent collection of poems, The Shape is Space. 3:28

Anthology Traces Rap's Lyrical Journey, Poetic Roots
Is rap music a form of lyric poetry? A new anthology, published by Yale University Press, makes the case. 7:39

National Book Award Winner Hayes Reads From Lighthead
National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes reads the title poem from his award-winning volume, Lighthead. 1:29

W.S. Merwin Explores the Importance of Imagination
A conversation with W.S. Merwin, who was appointed as the 17th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by The Library of Congress. 7:26

A Safe House for Writers in Pittsburgh
In Pittsburgh, a special program offers foreign writers whose lives are endangered to get a new start and write freely. 8:05

Texas Poet Twists Newsprint Into Prose
Austin Kleon is a Texas-based poet, writer, cartoonist and designer. He's found a playful way of making poetry from discarded newspapers, as demonstrated in his new book Newspaper Blackout. 4:49

Poet Ben Saenz Considers Mexico’s Border Violence
Saenz is a Chicano poet, novelist, professor and painter who lives near El Paso, Texas, just across the border from the Mexican town of Juarez. Much of his work addresses the land and people . . . 4:19
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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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