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Marilyn Nelson’s Journey to Poetry

By Harriet Staff

Marilyn Nelson at the H. Fred Simmons African American Cultural Center.

NPR’s All Things Considered this weekend visited and spoke to poet, Marilyn Nelson, about her quest to poetry at a very early age. To listen to their conversation in its entirety, visit NPR—some great highlights from their interview, posted below.

On choosing to write 50 poems in sonnet form

These are sonnets, except that they don’t rhyme. I did break that rule. After you kind of find your footing, sonnets are what comes easiest. You know, writing in form is a way of developing your thinking — your thinking along with the tradition. In a way, it’s not you alone, it’s you in partnership.

On her father’s outlook on life

My father was so proud. He wasn’t one of those famous Tuskegee airmen, but I imagine all of them were like this. We would be driving down the highway and get stopped because my father was speeding … he liked flight, he flew. And we were driving once some place in California and a cop stopped us and said, ‘What do you think you’re flying, boy?’ And my father said, ‘B-52s.’ ”

On how moving around shaped her childhood conceptions of death

For much of my life — my sister and I have talked about this — when we moved, we just thought the world behind us disappeared and all of the people, they just didn’t exist any more. So, death was the same thing. When you die, you go to a different school, you know, you get transferred. And I must say that that’s a very comforting way to consider death.

More to listen to and hear at All Things Considered.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, February 10th, 2014 by Harriet Staff.