SALT LAKE CITY — It’s National Poetry Month, and if Poem in Your Pocket Day or writing workshops aren’t your cup of tea, then maybe “Poetry in America” with retired NBA player Shaquille O’Neal and U2 rock star Bono will do the trick.
A 12-part series on PBS, “Poetry in America” premiered in Salt Lake City April 7. The 30-minute episodes will air throughout spring 2018 and feature readings and conversations with celebrities, poets and politicians. Other guest stars, including Regina Spektor, Yo-Yo Ma and former U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power, will join in celebrating the poetry of American writers such as Emily Dickinson, Carl Sandburg and Langston Hughes.
Elisa New, Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard University, hosts and directs the series. According to a news release, New believes that the conversational elements of the series should give viewers a greater appreciation for the world they live in.
"Poetry is human language worthy of being shared. It's that sharing that I wanted this series — more than anything else — to be about,” she said. “Each episode of 'Poetry in America' says to the viewer: Reading a poem in community with others enriches your life and deepens your understanding of the world.”
Each episode will premiere weekly on local PBS stations and can be streamed for free at poetryinamerica.org/tv-series. The second episode features O’Neal, Pau Gasol, Shane Battier and a group of pickup basketball players reading “Fast Break” by Edward Hirsch.