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To My Heart As I Go Along
Poetry recently received a heartening email from artist and writer Paul Zelevansky about his new project, “Mister Rogers for Adults.” Zelevansky, on behalf of the Fred Rogers Company, is developing a series of sixty-second videos, featuring Fred Rogers, which address “psychological, philosophical, and epistemological concerns” of social life and personal responsibility. The Fred Rogers Company (formerly Family Communications) was founded by Rogers in 1971 as the non-profit producer of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood for PBS and continues to build on Rogers’s legacy through a variety of media, educational tools, and public outreach.
During his research, Zelevansky mined a lesser-known Rogers creation called Old Friends, New Friends, a primetime series for adults for which Rogers interviewed people about their search for meaning in life. Notable guests included Milton Berle, Hoagy Carmichael, and William Sloane Coffin, plus lesser-known figures like Lesley Frost (second child of Robert and Elinor Frost) and Rogers’s own barber.
To our delight, Zelevansky shared with us a video clip of Kenneth Koch talking with Rogers about feeling necessary in the world, particularly by writing good poetry. The interview takes place in a senior citizen’s center where Koch was teaching poetry to residents, and appears here for its online debut.