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Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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Where We Live talks to former state poet-laureate Marilyn Nelson


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52:03 minutes (24.99 MB)
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Poet Marilyn Nelson: Photo by Ryan CassellaPoet Marilyn Nelson: Photo by Ryan Cassella Former poet laureate of the state of Connecticut Marilyn Nelson joins Where We Live to talk about her new book Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies & Little Misses of Color. Co-author of the book and Yale professor Elizabeth Alexander will join the discussion on the art of writing poetry. We'll also hear from senior poets who won a recent competition and talk to one of the judges, Shulamith Chernoff.

Click Here to hear interviews with some of the senior poets.Poet Shula Chernoff: Photo by Ryan CassellaPoet Shula Chernoff: Photo by Ryan Cassella

Alvin Laster: Photo by Catie Talarski, WNPRAlvin Laster: Photo by Catie Talarski, WNPR For pictures of Where We Live guests, visit our Flickr page.



Related Content:

Poetry 1/17/08


I am in the early Autumn of my life and have just started to write poetry!

30 Poems to date (in one years time) my goal for 2008 is to publish 17 of them in a collection. I am in the infancy of my writing but all of my poems have been very well received through my live readings. Typically I am asked to read more, it's like story time for adults and children alike. I am very excited about this new found experience of being able to let the words spill on the page and then share them. It is interesting to watch the audience, some from behind screen doors in the shadows but with the need to listen even from a guarded distance, wanting to hear the words and perhaps know what they might have meaning for them.


email to [email protected]

I'm a former student of Marilyn's and am currently a student of
comparative literature at Yale. One thing Marilyn taught us that I keep with me
all the time is that poetry can--and indeed has to--tell little lies to get to a
bigger truth. This is so important, in the face of blogging and instant
communication revealing every sordid factoid about everyone's life: poetry
reaches beyond vicissitudes, or even sometimes examines those vicissitudes, and
distills things into tiny nuggets of very big truths. I try to read a poem just
before turning out the light at night, so I can leave the laundry list behind
and take bigger ideas and feelings off to sleep with me.

Thanks for the show!
Meg Furniss Weisberg

Poetry and Math

I heard about your show today on the way to school, but since I will be giving a Geometry midterm while it is on the air I thought I would drop you a line.

As a math teacher and poet, I try to work poetry into the classroom. One option the students have every marking period as a project is to write a poem/song/rap about particular math concepts. I am currently grading the new batch but I've included a few of the best ones from the first marking period.


Victoria Rivas
Hamden High School


by Chevon Mills

I need acute girl
That’s going to be adjacent to me.
I need acute girl
That’s good at Geometry.
I need acute girl
That’s going to help me get those A’s and B’s
I need acute girl to ride for me.

I’m hot she hot like 90 degrees
So that mean both of us complementary.
She my supplement so us together is 180 degrees.
So we straight, so they hate
But I don’t care
Cause to me they all squares.
Four right angles in this love triangle.
Well now, not really that’s type silly.
Cause it’s only one girl I’m feeling that feels me.
I remember they said was going to be wear and tear.
Though we straight and still adjacent
So call us a linear pair.
At first we was gong the same way
But we had our space you had yours
And I had mines like parallel lines.
Now like glue I’m a stick to you.
Never thought we’d cross like perpendicular lines.
Today I need to say.

I need acute girl
That’s going to be adjacent to me.
I need acute girl
That’s good at Geometry.
I need acute girl
That’s going to help me get those A’s and B’s
I need acute girl to ride for me.

by Malika Reeves

What are angles that equal 90 degrees?
Well they are complementary you see.
What are two angles that share a common vertex and side?
Look, these adjacent angles are not trying to hide.
“I don’t know what a linear pair of angles are,” you say.
They are adjacent angles whose noncommon sides are opposite rays.
Two angles that equal 180 degrees are supplementary.
But they can also be a pair of linear angles indeed.
Vertical angles are made by intersecting lines and have equal measure.
It is easy to draw like an X that marks a treasure.
If you ever noticed, angles are everywhere.
It doesn’t matter how far or near.

by Kendrick Marshall and Shakira Woodard

We talkin’ ‘bout Geometry.
We rappin’ ‘bout Geometry.
We singin’ ‘bout Geometry.
We talkin’ ‘bout Geometry.

We got a right angle which is 90 degrees
Add one more up to a buck eighty.
That’s an obtuse angle that you won’t believe.
Then 180 a straight line on a street corner
But you gotta realize there’s a street light
At the intersection where cars cross vertical all night.


I got friends that are adjacent,
That’ll chill all day all week.
Complementary, supplementary
Pairs that ain’t twins necessarily.
Geometry is the thing to learn
In your life, in the world
Surely you’re going to need it.
If you believe you shall receive it.
I’m not talking ‘bout drugs homie.
I’m talking ‘bout the diploma Geometry gave me.


The Young Poets of Windham High School

Check out the work that this group of young people from Windham is doing:

If you are wondering what's on the mind of some of Connecticut's youth, read their ideas and thoughts in the book of poetry that they published last year:

Poetry has the power to transform lives. In Windham, we are fortunate to also be home to Curbstone Press, which lost its co-founder last month in the death of Sandy Taylor.

The voices of these youth are powerful and strong. We, as residents and leaders in Connecticut cities, are not doing a very good job of hearing these voices. We need to ask these youth more often what they want to see happening in our communities and our schools -- indeed, THEIR communities and THEIR schools. And we need to support teachers, such as Lynn Frazier at Windham High School, and others like her, who are engaging students and helping them discover their voices, their strengths and their creativity.

Steve Dahlberg
International Centre for Creativity and Imagination
Willimantic, Connecticut