Celebrate National Poetry Month with Bookworm’s favorite poets and collections


April is national poetry, and there is much to celebrate. Start with a selection of tantalizing interviews and moving readings from the Bookworm archives that spotlight some of our favorite poets and their treasured books. Dive below and explore KCRW’s comprehensive poetry archive for so much more.

After: Michael Silverblatt’s Favorite Books of 2021

Victoria Chang “Obituary”

Victoria Chang talks about writing poetry that comes close to human feeling, knowing that language can never reach the fullness of that feeling. Written after her mother’s death, “Obit,” her new book, is an inch away from heartbreak; it’s a remarkable book for anyone dealing with grief (as we all are during the pandemic). “Obit” is as much about consolation and acceptance as it is about the fearsome expression of the unbearable aspects of grief.

After: Listen to Victoria Chang discuss “Obit” on Bookworm

Rita Dove – “Playlist for the Apocalypse”

As America’s Poet Laureate from 1993 to 1995, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and honored with both the National Medal of Humanities and the National Medal of Arts, Rita Dove has blessed us with her writing. She talks about learning to write again after her multiple sclerosis diagnosis and her experiences with racism as a black woman wherever she goes. She says “Playlist for the Apocalypse” echoes what’s happening in the world from many different historical and personal directions while also wanting to comfort the reader.

After: Listen to Rita Dove discuss ‘Playlist for the Apocalypse’ on Bookworm

Lawrence Ferlinghetti — “The time of useful consciousness

Renowned poet and beat icon Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s book “Time of Useful Consciousness” (New Directions) is part of his epic Americus. Its title is an aeronautical term for the period between when you run out of oxygen and when you stop being able to function. As such, it is a dire warning for America.


After: Hear Michael Silverblatt discuss the legacy of Lawrence Ferlinghetti on Bookworm

Aracelis Girmay “How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton”

“How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton”, edited by Aracelis Girmay, is a special literary treat. Gone from us now, Clifton left so much behind, like ten newly discovered poems included here. A mystical spirit, she turned experience into poetry, and her truthful poems about black womanhood insist on beauty and relatedness even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Girmay wrote poems for history, now and the future; his works stick in your mind and insist on seeing the world in a different way. Girmay says she has arranged the selected poems in chronological order, without page markers, because she believes these poems transcend the idea of ​​a book.

After: Listen to Aracelis Girmay discuss “How to Carry Water: Selected Poems by Lucille Clifton” on Bookworm

Ange Mlinko – “Wonderful Things Heard”

Ange Mlinko is a poet of splendour, sound pattern and play. The ‘Shoulder Season’ author reads poems from his collection, ‘Marvelous Things Overheard’ and talks about how poetry weaves together difficulty and pleasure.

After: Listen to Ange Mlinko discuss “Marvelous Things Overheard” on Bookworm

Eileen Myles “For Now (Why I’m Writing)”

A person who wants to be a poet should consider Eileen Myles, an accomplished professional. Myles is able to reflect a world that welcomes them, speaking of their desire both to be alone and to be part of a community. They say the rhythms of your home and your birthplace are the rhythms of your writing voice. The “Eileen Syntax” creates sentences that are unlike anyone else’s.

After: Listen to Eileen Myles discuss “For Now (Why I’m Writing)” on Bookworm

Charles North – “Everything and Other Poems”

Charles North describes “Everything and Other Poems” as “messy poetry” without the formal requirements of his earlier work. New poems emerge from a new freedom. The long poem “Everything” talks about the nature of poetry and its ability to talk about, well, everything: everything belongs, and everything can be formulated in its own original formulation.

After: Listen to Charles North discuss “Everything and Other Poems” on Bookworm

Morgan Parker – “There are more beautiful things than Beyoncé”

Poet Morgan Parker reveals she’s been trolled on the internet by those who say she’s wrong – that nothing is more beautiful than Beyoncé. Really? Nothing more beautiful than love, the sky, roses? Than Parker’s own mother?

She says the poems in her book “There Are Things Prettier Than Beyoncé” (Tin House Books) take a stand against mainstream culture’s clichés. And if a beautiful pop diva is part of that culture, it’s Parker’s mission to find things of beauty in our daily lives to celebrate.

After: Listen to Morgan Parker discuss “There are more beautiful things than Beyoncé” on Bookworm

Kate Tempest – “The Bricks That Built the Houses”

Rapper, poet, playwright and now novelist Kate Tempest always knew she would write ‘The Bricks That Built the Houses’ (Bloomsbury USA) to accompany the characters on her ‘Everybody Down’ album. She says she was so inspired and impressed by the novels that she wanted to have an idea big enough to fill out the form. Having now won it over, she looks to the next decade as an exciting one in which she can stop being a “beginning anything” and just be ready to accept any creative inspiration that may come.

After: Listen to Kate Tempest discuss “The Bricks That Built the Houses” on Bookworm

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