National Poetry Month: Poet Nick Friedman Takes A Look Inside

Weekend Edition is celebrating poetry month by hearing from young poets about why poetry still matters. Today Nick Friedman shares some of his thoughts and some of his work.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

April is National Poetry Month, a celebration of the legacy and achievements of American poets. And here on WEEKEND EDITION, we're going to mark the occasion by hearing from younger poets about why they chose poetry and how poems are still relevant in our everyday lives.

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NICHOLAS FRIEDMAN: My name is Nicholas Friedman and I'm a poet and lecturer at Cornell University.

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FRIEDMAN: Robert Frost's speaking of poems in general - says that the initial delight is in the surprise of remembering something I didn't know I knew.

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FRIEDMAN: I decided to pursue that surprise, largely because of an attraction I had to a young girl in fifth grade and when I decided to anonymously put a poem of just a few lines under her desk after a day of school.

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FRIEDMAN: I think that people find poetry in their everyday lives whether they like it or not. Poets like to pretend that their poetry, or poetry in general, is less available than it really is. In terms of making poetry more available, well, it's just a matter of keeping it in conversation. And I feel almost a bit fraudulent even saying that because poetry is in conversation. It's all over the Internet. It's all over print magazines. These things are available to people.

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FRIEDMAN: (Reading) Now, everywhere the pageantry of youth is on display. The squeal of bike chains spinning through the gray plays fugue to puddle froth. The punctual blitz of hyacinths in April ushers spring with lavender dripped from the upturned wing of windswept Gabriel. A youngish pair walks wired at the arms. She casually ribbing him, he lightly brushing her breast, jibbing their step to spare the worms stranded along the road. Too soon their laughter rises and goes drifting towards silence. And now the young man knows love's not the song, but after. Like the mute remembered chorus of the rain that stains the walk long after falling, or the lifeless stalk still hoisting its head of grain. Uneasy now, she loosens from his hand. Their dark familiars stare back, reflected by the passing cars with speechless reprimand. Before the chill each chartered hell grows hotter. Still, every burn will teach him how to run and how to turn her wine back into water.

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MARTIN: That was Nicholas Friedman reciting his poem called "Not the Song but After." He spoke to us from the studios at Cornell University.

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