AMERICAN POEMS TO STIR OUR HEARTS
Serendipity. The day after we launched our latest radio theater podcast “Ten Poems for America”, Amanda Gorman lit up the Inauguration podium with “The Hill We Climb”. Poetry literally took center stage once again.
Poetry is our most intense literary expression of feeling and thought, through style and rhythm. Poetry captures what lies between the words.
Now we have the time!
At Parson’s Nose we refresh classic works so they can be appreciated in a new way, taking a second look at works we may have experienced when we were too young or too busy to give the focus they deserve. Our delight is when an audience member says, “I never knew that was in there!” We believe the pleasure of learning something new doesn’t end with your diploma.
In the spirit of our new year and new beginnings we offer “Ten Poems for America” with brief introductions occasionally, to give a bit of context. We hope you’ll take the time – the longest is seven minutes – to hear them anew. They’re ours; written by and for us. Their power is in the juxtaposition of their origins and today’s reality.
American poets are often American activists. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was originally entitled “The Defense of Fort McHenry” and written to stir the souls of early Americans. The same is true of Longfellow’s “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere”. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was the title the Atlantic Monthly gave to abolitionist Julia Ward Howe’s new lyrics to “John Brown’s Body.” “A New Colossus” was written by Jewish reformer Emma Lazarus for the pedestal of the new Statue of Liberty.
Walt Whitman celebrated the industry of America at work. And Langston Hughes and Lawrence Ferlinghetti remind us we have a ways to go.
None of them are pessimistic. None of them doubt. They write to light a fire under us, to rally us to continue the work others have begun. They’re passing the torch and telling us to grasp it firmly and giddyap! That’s American! – Lance Davis