July 30, 2012
Contact:
Emerson Brown, NPR


   

NPR POETRY GAMES:
POETS GO FOR GOLD WITH OLYMPICS-INSPIRED VERSE

POEMS COMMISSIONED BY NPR & PERFORMED ON 'MORNING EDITION'
JULY 30-AUGUST 3; LISTENERS VOTE FOR WINNER AT NPR.ORG

May the best verse win! Inspired by the ancient tradition of celebrating champions in poetry, NPR brings together poets representing five corners of the globe in a challenge to pen the ultimate ode to sports. The NPR Poetry Games presents a friendly head-to-head competition by having "poethletes" perform original works inspired by athletics. The lyrical gymnastics take place all this week, July 30 to August 3, with a new poem each day on Morning Edition. Listeners will determine the winner through online voting at NPR.org: www.npr.org/poetrygames

For the NPR Poetry Games, five acclaimed poets from around the world recite their original works, commissioned by NPR for this series, on Morning Edition. The full audio of the readings and text of the poems are posted at NPR.org, with custom illustrations for each work. Voting opens today; one poet will be named the victor during Morning Edition on Friday, August 10. More on the series is available to audiences by following the Twitter hashtag #nprpoetrygames and in a conversation between Morning Edition host Renee Montagne and Olympics scholar Tony Perrottet about the ways poets through the ages have honored athletes, and competed for the poet's laurel crown.

Meet the poethletes competing in the NPR Poetry Games:

Representing the United States
Kazim Ali
A Muslim-American poet and novelist of Indian descent, Ali's work has been featured in Best American Poetry and the American Poetry Review. He teaches at Oberlin College.

Representing Slovenia
Ales Steger
Surprise is a hallmark of the Slovenian poet's work. He's been called "one of Central Europe's most essential literary figures" and writes both in English and Slovene.

Representing South Africa
Mbali Vilakazi
Vilakazi is an emerging voice in the South African literary scene and hosted a national youth talk program on South African radio.

Representing Mexico
Monica de la Torre
Hailing from Mexico, de la Torre is the author of three renowned collections of poems. She's a former Fulbright scholar and is the editor of BOMB magazine.

Representing China and Australia
Ouyang Yu
A prolific poet, novelist and editor, Yu immigrated to Australia from China in 1991 and is now considered one of Australia's great poets. He edits a bilingual English-Chinese literary magazine and was named one of Melbourne's top 100 most influential people in 2011.

The Poetry Games are part of NPR Books' poetry coverage, and support for the series is provided by the Poetry Foundation. NPR News' reporting on the 30th Olympiad is airing across all NPR programs and at NPR.org; find coverage and resources at the Summer Olympics 2012 page. Additional stories and updates are at the NPR Olympics blog, The Torch, and the @nprolympics feed.