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Poetry

Screen Shot 2018-03-12 at 8.37.02 PMThis week on The New Yorker Radio Hour, I interviewed Heinz Insu Fenkl. Fenkl is in the process of translating the poems included in that mysterious manuscript said to have been smuggled out of North Korea.  He talked about the unusual, propaganda-inspired poetic devices at work in “The Red Years,” and explained what the poems reveal about the North Korean dream of reunification.

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I recently spent a glorious spring afternoon with Gregory Pardlo, the winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize in poetry.  We chatted on his stoop, and then we walked to a few of the neighborhood spots that feature prominently in his poetry– including the Fulton Street Foodtown, which is the setting for his poem “Problema 3.”  There, we talked about Baltimore, Toya Graham and being a black parent. Hear my story for The Takeaway and listen to him read and discuss a few other poems on The Takeaway’s site.

UPDATE: A second version of the story I filed for the WNYC newsroom is now online too.  In it, we talk about the changing visual landscape of his neighborhood, and why his young daughters have mixed feelings about his Pulitzer.

For National Poetry Month, in April I produced a series of stories on The Takeaway highlighting poems submitted by listeners around the country. The project grew out of the #ThisIsWhere poetry contest WLRN and O Miami held this month for south Floridians; The Takeaway expanded the call for submissions to include listeners around the country, inviting listeners to send us their poems the places that really matter to them.

New Jersey listener Jane Byron described moving to Camden as a young single mom with a dream of revitalizing the city.   Worcester, Massachusetts resident Augustine Kanjia wrote about the love he discovered for the city that welcomed him in  after he fled war-torn Sierra Leone.   A poem from Cathy Wells of east Texas paid tribute to the family land her parents purchased, cleared, and settled together.  And in Miami, WLRN listener Eduardo Lis wrote about finding freedom and solace on North Beach as a new immigrant  with not much more than a Walgreen’s bathing suit to his name.  Hear their stories at: http://www.thetakeaway.org/series/thisiswhere/.