Poetry

Life Pig

Nov 1, 2016
University of Chicago Press

In two new books, writer and professor Alan Shapiro explores themes of convention, pain and self-expression. “Life Pig” (University of Chicago Press/2016) is his latest book of poetry and “That Self-Forgetful Perfectly Useless Concentration” (University of Chicago Press/2016) is a new collection of essays. Host Frank Stasio speaks with Shapiro, the William R. Kenan Jr.

Rafeef Ziadah is a Palestinian poet and human rights activist living in London. Her poem, “We Teach Life, Sir,” is powerful and poignant reminder of the human condition in conflict. 

On this bonus episode of Stories with a Heartbeat, host Will McInerney reflects on some of the stories from our past episodes covering the Chapel Hill Shooting in season 1. Rafeef's beautiful and moving poetry is emblematic of the legacy and the lasting message of life that Deah Barakat, Yusor Abu Salha, and Razan Abu Salha left behind. Listen to Rafeef's poem with the link below. 

Graduation speeches tend to be predictable and repetitive. They rarely leave a lasting impression. But a couple months ago, Harvard Graduate School of Education student Donovan Livingston's voice echoed around the world as his poetic commencement speech went viral.

Picture of poet Dasan Ahanu and podcast logo.
Will McInerney / WUNC

As athletes from around the world compete for gold in Rio this summer, poets from across the U.S. are facing off in a different kind of competition. It is called a poetry slam. On this episode of Stories with a Heartbeat, we talk to poetry slam champion Dasan Ahanu to figure out what this poetic conflict is all about, and how to win.

Colette Heiser

CJ Suitt is a young black poet living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. And he has a simple and frightening question, "Would I be shot if I called the police?"

CJ uses his poetry to combat stereotypes and to build bridges of understanding. But he admits, in the wake of yet another series of high profile killings of black men by the police, something has changed. CJ no longer feels safe walking at night.

Stories with a Heartbeat Podcast Header Logo
WUNC / WUNC

In a month filled with tragedy, how do we make sense of it all? This week on the podcast, we use a poetic lens to try and find meaning within conflict.

photo of Alexis Pauline Gumbs, her nephew, and stepsister
Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Some scholars are criticized for staying within the ‘ivory tower,’ and creating work that’s only accessible to a highly-academic audience. Alexis Pauline Gumbs does not receive that criticism.

She identifies as a community-accountable scholar and puts that identity into practice by intentionally bringing scholarly ideas into non-academic settings. This manifests in online educational projects like ‘Eternal Summer of The Black Feminist Mind,’ which creates accessible curricula from black feminist work.

School is full of conflict. This week we explore three conflicts in the classroom. Students and teachers use poetry and stories to reflect on moments of friction at school and help us understand why they matter. 

Stories with a Heartbeat is a new podcast from WUNC hosted by poet Will McIneney that uses poetry and storytelling to explore the complexity of conflict. 

George Yamazawa uses spoken word poetry to address personal conflicts and inner struggles. Yamazawa is a National Poetry Slam Champion and his writing is deeply tied to his Japanese-American heritage.

University of Mount Olive

  

Lenard Moore's bus ride to his segregated school in Jacksonville, North Carolina, was long, and often boring, but he quickly found that books could fill the void.

At first it was just "Green Eggs and Ham"  and "The Gingerbread Man." But those turned out to be the simple beginnings of a love for literature that blossomed into a career as a poet.

When Lenard joined the Army, poetry became his outlet. By the time he got out, he was writing an average of four poems a day, and started exploring a centuries-old form of poetry, the haiku.

Maureen, her dad and their dog Rusty in 1968.
Maureen Sherbondy

In this first week of 2016, many people are reflecting on the good and bad moments of the past year and what resolutions they have for the coming months. For poet Maureen Sherbondy this meditation on change is an important and ongoing process that served as the inspiration for her latest collection of poetry, “The Art of Departure.”

In the first half of the collection, she explores the many ways one deals with losses like death, divorce, and children leaving the home. And in the second half, she looks at how people come to terms with their new lives after drastic change.

An image of Raleigh poet Gibbons Ruark
Kay Ruark

Raleigh-based poet Gibbons Ruark has been traveling to Ireland for more than 35 years. Along the way, he has walked the same paths as the country's literary greats like W.B. Yeats and Seamus Heaney.

In his new book, The Road to Ballyvaughan (Jacar Press/2015), Ruark assembles decades of his poetry that reflects the country's rich culture.

A Stone For Bread

Oct 27, 2015
Miriam Herin is out with her second novel, 'A Stone For Bread,' which looks for the truth with a mysterious set of poems from a Nazi death camp.
Tom Herin

In the mid-20th century, Henry Beam was a promising young poet from Cleveland County. On a trip to Paris, he returned with poems he claimed were saved from a Nazi death camp. This became his undoing as allegations of plagiarism cost him his job and career.

Three decades later, Beam broke his silence and told his life story to a UNC graduate student. What she discovers is a complex experience in France: Beam’s love affair, his sketchy situation with a right-wing politician and his encounter with a mysterious man who supposedly gave him the poems.

Mary Kratt in rhododendron at age 6
Mary Kratt

Historian and author Mary Kratt grew up in the countryside surrounded by trees, the occasional quail hunter and not much else. As a little girl she spent a lot of time on her own and became a keen observer of her surroundings and other people, and she says that’s exactly why she is a successful poet today. 

Kratt has authored six poetry books and a number of books and essays on Charlotte history.

Image of Amber Flora Thomas, a poet and creative writing professor at East Carolina University.
Amber Flora Thomas

Amber Flora Thomas was in many ways destined to be an artist. Her mother is a painter, her father was a sculptor, and they valued creativity more than almost anything else.

She spent most of her childhood in cars, tents and trailers as they traveled from art show to art show. And though she tried to stray from a creative career and pursue a degree in political science so that she could become a lawyer, she found that she was continually drawn back to writing.

Image of Nathaniel Mackey, who is one of the country's most respected poets and recently released his new book 'Blue Fasa.'
Andrew Tie

    

Poet Nathaniel Mackey is one of the most respected experimental writers in the country today. In recent years, the Duke professor has received many honors including the Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Book Award and, most recently, Yale University’s Bollingen Prize.

Image of "Soon," the latest collection of short stories written by Pam Durban, a creative writing professor at UNC.
University of South Carolina Press

The characters of Pam Durban’s short stories face a variety of challenges on different fronts - grief, identity, interpersonal relationships.

But the common thread that binds them all is storytelling. Durban’s latest collection of short stories is Soon (University of South Carolina Press/2015).  

Host Frank Stasio talks with Durban, professor of creative writing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Flickr/Fredrik Rubensson

Media consumers now have more information at their fingertips than ever before, and there is far more news available than any one person could possibly absorb. Writers and journalists are pushed to communicate more succinctly and shorten stories in order to pique readers’ attention.

But a group of artists are trying to buck this trend with an online venue that encourages writers to do exactly the opposite. At Length is a forum for long-form, in-depth writing, art, music and photography.

Domestic Garden

Apr 30, 2015
John Hoppenthaler's new book of poems is an exploration of age and marriage.
Annie Hogan / Carnegie Mellon University Press

When John Hoppenthaler wrote his newest book of poetry, Domestic Garden (Carnegie Mellon University Press/2015), he was experiencing change in his personal life.

The poet and professor at East Carolina University married just before turning 50 years old, and he also became a stepfather. At the same time, his mother’s health was declining. 

The transitions became the backbone of his intimate and vulnerable poetry.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Hoppenthaler about his life, work and poetry.

A selection of images and poems by husband and wife artist team Michael Platt and Carol Beane. Their  exhibit “Ritual + Time Travel=Rebirth” is on view at the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History.
Michael Platt and Carol Beane

Husband and wife artist team Michael Platt and Carol Beane co-create work that explores rites, rituals and the lives of people living on the margins of history.

Shelby Stephenson (left) is North Carolina's new Poet Laureate.
shelbystephenson.com

North Carolina's new poet laureate, Shelby Stephenson, will be installed Monday, February 2, 2015. 

Greensboro poet David Roderick's newest collection, The Americans (University of Pittsburgh Press/2014), examines the social aspects that define the country.

A child of the classic American suburb, Roderick found the definition lies somewhere in the middle of our history, our perceptions and the American dream.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Roderick about The Americans.

Regarding My Son
Finishing Line Press

    

When Sonia Usatch-Kuhn's son was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, she started keeping a diary of sorts.

She wrote poetry about the devastating moments when her son was institutionalized, and when he did not speak for two years. She also wrote poetry about the moments of joy when he began to distinguish reality from his paranoia and hallucinations.

Sonia’s writings are now a book of poetry that follows the story from her son’s diagnosis 35 years ago to his life today.

North Carolina is home to many nationally regarded poets. In the mountains, the piedmont and on the coast, poetry has a presence. But, in large part that presence lives within the world of academia. In an attempt to spread the poetry bug, Carrboro Poet La
westendpoetsweekend.com

North Carolina is home to many nationally regarded poets. In the mountains, the Piedmont and on the coast, poetry has a presence. But, in large part that presence lives within the world of academia.

Cover Image for On the Bevel.
Janice Fuller

  

When poet Janice Fuller sits down to write, she chooses three random words and uses them to jump start her creativity. 

Photo of poetry writing.
Flickr/Lorenzo Tomada

  

Triad poets are gaining local and national recognition for their creative approaches to poetry and poetry-inspired community work. 

woman lying on the grass
mainstreetrag.com

Walt Disney's fairy tale adaptations are known for their neat, happy endings. But in their original states, these tales were rife with darkness and despair. 

Writer and poet Maureen Sherbondy embraces the gloom in her new book, "Beyond Fairy Tales: Poems in Concrete & Flesh" (Main Street Rag Publishing Company/2014). For example, Sherbondy's Rapunzel loses her hair to chemotherapy.

What the Prince Doesn't Know

By Maureen Sherbondy

Two months ago the mammogram revealed
a lump, and days since then have passed.

She can no longer throw her hair over the wall
for him to shimmy up beneath the star-scarred sky.

In a nauseous-chemo blur, clumps of golden thread
fell from her head to the tower's cold stone floor.

Still, the witch keeps her here, caged and ill, the left breast
completely gone. Her head a pale bald egg.

So when the Prince yells up to her, Rapunzel, throw down your golden hair, she hides beneath the sterile sheets.
 

Reel to Reel book cover shows a galaxy
press.uchicago.edu

Poet Alan Shapiro says good science writing, like good poetry, asks questions and evokes a sense of wonder. His new book, "Reel to Reel" (University of Chicago Press/2014), takes inspiration from biology, astronomy and physics.

The poems move between the intimately familiar and the vastly unknowable, considering both the frustrations of political hypocrisy and the mysteries of human consciousness. 

Homeric Turns, Part 2

The gods laugh, that’s what they’re good at, laughing.They laugh at the crippled god, his shriveled legs,
His hobbling, and his mother, in a little
Shadow play of suffering at the sight of him,
Her crippled baby, laughs the loudest, and then
Laughs even louder when she hurls him out
Of heaven, and he falls, and while he falls
The laughter echoing around him is
The measure of the pure unbreathable cold
Height of the heaven he’s falling from and through,
Hilarity of light and air, delight’s
Effacement of everything but itself.
And the crippled baby tumbling to earth
In a charade of terror? Don’t let him
Deceive you—he’s a god—he’s laughing too.

Alloy book cover shows woman in toga
boomerangbooks.com

    

Inspiration for poetry can strike anywhere, even at the Carolina Tiger Rescue in Pittsboro. A visit there sparked one of the poems in "Alloy" (2014, WordTech Communications), the latest book from Larry Johnson. 

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