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Happy National Poetry Month! We thought this would be a great time to introduce the two newest poets added to our NEA Big Read library: Adrian Matejka and Alberto Ríos . Both poets are poet laureate of their state (Matejka in Indiana and Ríos in Arizona). They’re fierce believers in poetry’s place...
Acclaimed children’s novelist Erin Entrada Kelly will tell you honestly that she prefers children over adults because, in her eyes, she’s still kind of like a kid. Kelly discovered her connection to young people and her knack for writing children’s literature when she wrote a collection of short...
Do you have a favorite poem for welcoming spring? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments. (Click on the title of each poem to read the full text.) "You flaunted the fragrance of your blossoms/ Through the wide doors of Customs Houses/ You, and sandal-wood, and tea,/ Charging the noses...
What do NEA Big Read author Kevin Young* and current U.S. Poet Laureate, Tracy K. Smith, have in common? Other than being two of today’s most distinguished poets, Smith and Young both emerged onto the literary scene at Harvard University in the early 1990s as original members of an African-American...
Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney has been described as “the most important Irish poet since Yeats.” In honor of Irish American Heritage Month, check out some of his thoughts on poetry, literature, and life. "Poetry is more a threshold than a path." -- Seamus Heaney "If poetry and art can do...
When José Olivarez walked into the Louder Than A Bomb youth poetry festival as a shy 15-year-old, he discovered an electric atmosphere filled with the rhythms of hip-hop music, young people rapping, people dancing, and the beats of someone’s drums. “I remember feeling, ‘Oh, my God. I've walked into...
"I think that the reason why art stays alive is that the artist grows. I mean the body doesn't stay the same; the brain doesn't stay the same. Your art can't stay the same." -- Sonia Sanchez
Filmmakers Rita Coburn-Whack and Bob Hercules knew only one thing for sure about one another when they first met: they both deeply admired the writer and activist Maya Angelou. They were also puzzled by the same thing: Why hadn't anyone yet made a documentary about the icon whose work had...
In James Weldon Johnson's famous poem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" —known colloquially as the black national anthem—the poet urges us to "Let our rejoicing rise/ High as the list’ning skies...." In the poems that follow poets lift their voices skyward in praise of notable figures in African-American...
"Hold fast to dreams/ For if dreams die/ Life is a broken-winged bird/ That cannot fly." — Langston Hughes "Cheap little rhymes/ A cheap little tune/ Are sometimes as dangerous/ As a sliver of the moon." — Langston Hughes "An artist must be free to choose what he does certainly, but he must also...

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