Letters: Finding Diversity And The Power Of Poetry

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Talk of the Nation listeners share their thoughts on how they define diversity in the workplace. Also, a poet responds to an interview with former Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

NEAL CONAN, host:

It's Tuesday, and time to read from your emails and Web comments.

Our conversation with Elijah Anderson about cosmopolitan canopies -places that encourage us to cross lines of race, gender and class brought - this email from Becky in Minnesota: I'm a volunteer diversity representative for a GLBTA organization, and I have forgone making racial diversity the number one priority. Instead, I'm trying to approach the position with a priority of member education and awareness of ours and other communities. To me, entering any community with the idea that we have the right to be accepted and flourish is naive. We should definitely cross into communities other than our own, but with reverence for their collection of perceptions.

And Ellen Sandbeck(ph), also in Minnesota, wrote: My favorite place to talk to strangers is trains and buses in Chicago. I think that because Chicago is fairly unusual, in that almost everyone uses mass transit at all times of the day and night, Chicagoans are accustomed to mixing with each other. One very worn-down woman allowed me to hold her lovely little grandbaby. I've talked to chemistry professors from Turkey, and lots of people on their way to or from nightshift jobs. I view mass transit in Chicago rather as a rolling party. It's different than anywhere else on Earth.

Our conversation with Luke Visconti who writes the "Ask a White Guy" column for diversityInc prompted Anarotu Vicram(ph) to send us this note: As an American woman of South Asian background, my experience has been that we have a problem less of race and gender and more of homogeneity. To achieve true diversity, we need to accommodate for cultural differences and differences in thinking in our workplaces. My partner is a man of white European background, and he too often finds that his ideas are dismissed when they don't meet the status quo. If we don't change that attitude, diversifying our workforce is no more than brown washing.

Finally, Faralisa Onzaldua(ph) heard our discussion with Billy Collins about his new book, "Horoscopes for the Dead," and wrote: As a poet myself, I found today's show very moving and a nice surprise. Often when literature is mentioned, poetry is left out, as if it were the orphan stepchild of the family, forgotten in the corner. She continued: Working for human rights whenever I become discouraged, poetry reminds me why I fight by giving me courage and illuminating the intangible pieces of our human existence. Poetry is the match used to light candles in a dark room.

If you have a correction for us, comments or questions, the best way to reach us is by email. The address is: talk@npr.org. Please, let us know where you're writing from and give us some help on how to pronounce your name. And if you're on Twitter, you can follow me there, @neilconan -all one word.

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