Elisa New considers the rise of the skyscraper-- and the emergence of the modernist poem-- in an episode featuring celebrated architect Frank Gehry, Chinese visionary and real estate developer Zhang Xin, poet Robert Polito, and student poets from around the United States.
The 12-part series POETRY IN AMERICA draws students of all ages into conversations about poetry. Hosted by Harvard University professor Elisa New, each half-hour episode highlights the work of one distinguished poet (Sonia Sanchez, Jorie Graham, Robert Polito) with a reading by an individual well known for accomplishments outside the humanities (Elena Kagan, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; Grammy-Award winner Herbie Hancock; and rapper poet Nas), as well as a chorus of others, including: a group of Harlem schoolchildren, a pick-up basketball team, the crew aboard an oceanographic vessel, and students from the National Student Poets program. The fast-moving, beautifully shot series offers viewers a fully immersive experience in hearing, reading, and interpreting a single American poem. Scholar Elisa New opens a conversation about poetry and encourages viewers at home to extend the discussion past the episode's end. Herbie Hancock, Sonia Sanchez, and kids from the Harlem Children's Zone on "Harlem" by Langston Hughes, Frank Gehry, Robert Polito, and National Student Poets on "Skyscraper" by Carl Sandburg.