If you rarely pick up stories or verse, here's a handy guide to some of 2013's best collections. Whether you tend toward family dramas, biographies, gritty journalism or darkly comic novels, we've got a book for you — and it just might turn you into a story lover or poetry addict.
November 6, 2013 For one year, on her daily walks, poet Harryette Mullen observed the collision of the natural world with the man-made environs of Los Angeles. She translated her impressions into a series of tankas, 31-syllable poems in the Japanese tradition. The resulting collection is called Urban Tumbleweed: Notes From a Tanka Diary.
November 2, 2013 Best American Poetry editor David Lehman has spent decades writing, reading, reviewing and anthologizing massive quantities of American poetry. But his latest project, compiling a retrospective collection of his own work, was new for him. He tells NPR that all his editorial experience wasn't terribly useful when it was time for self-curation.
October 25, 2013 At first glance, poet Tess Taylor was skeptical of Brenda Hillman's 17-year, four-book series of poems on the elements. But Taylor fell for the strange and spiraling verses in Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which was longlisted for the National Book Award. "I commend you to this lively, defiant, blazing book," she says.
September 28, 2013 This year marks the 125th birthday of Nobel Prize-winning poet T.S. Eliot. To celebrate, a re-issue of the first edition of his seminal poem has just been published, with an introduction by New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Muldoon about the poem's lasting influence.
September 28, 2013 The host of A Prairie Home Companion and The Writer's Almanac has published his first poetry collection called O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic and Profound. "I love rhymes," Keillor says. "I love to write a poem about New York and rhyme 'oysters' with 'The Cloisters.' "
August 30, 2013 The Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney died this morning in Dublin at the age of 74. In a remembrance, poet and critic Craig Morgan Teicher writes that Heaney had mastered sound and nuance, crafting poems you can taste and feel, alive and powerful, as you speak them aloud.
August 6, 2013 Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky says he's tired of people thinking of poetry as bad-tasting medicine they have to swallow just because it's healthy. His anthology of 80 poems by master poets is designed to help us see poetry as an art "rather than a challenge to say smart things."
June 7, 2013 Critic Alan Cheuse believes that summer — with its long, hot, drowsy days — may be the best season for reading poetry. His recommendations include works by Poets Laureate Robert Pinsky and W.S. Merwin, and a novel in verse by the late essayist David Rakoff.
May 2, 2013 Caroline Kennedy isn't just an advocate for reading poetry. In her latest book, Poems to Learn by Heart, Kennedy stresses the importance of memorizing poetry and presents a collection of poems that she believes kids and adults alike should internalize.
May 2, 2013 NASA is looking for three haiku to include on a DVD that will travel to Mars aboard a spacecraft this fall. And everyone who submits a poem will have their name included.
April 30, 2013 As National Poetry Month comes to a close, cartoonist Francesco Marciuliano sketches his way through three centuries of cat-loving poets from Christopher Smart's sacred mouser to Margaret Atwood's yellow-eyed feline companion.
April 29, 2013 Great poetry almost never leads to great paychecks. Even award-winning poets need to pay the bills. Many teach, but others are doctors, scientists, lawyers, undertakers or even market analysts. In celebration of National Poetry Month, writer David Orr takes a look at the secret lives of poets.
April 27, 2013 April is National Poetry Month, and what better way to celebrate than with new books? This month brings us a reissue of Hayden, a retranslation of Dante, a gathering of estimable poems from the past quarter-century and a new collection with a camera-eye view of the world.
April 21, 2013 Nate Klug is a poet and candidate for ordination in the United Church of Christ. "Poetry is a form where the language is under so much pressure," he says, "and that can really bring about wonderful surprises and insights in our ways of talking about God or thinking about our faith."
April 17, 2013 In honor of National Poetry Month, we've reached into our archives and pulled up 10 interviews with Poets Laureate. Hear current laureate Natasha Trethewey on Hurricane Katrina, Ted Kooser on his Valentine's Day poems, Robert Pinsky on the news, and more.
April 14, 2013 In celebration of National Poetry Month, Weekend Edition is asking young poets about what poetry means to them. This week, Harmony Holiday describes how poetry helped her "negotiate the language" of having a white mother and an African-American father.
April 6, 2013 April is famously the cruelest month — according to the poem — but it's also the month we celebrate poetry. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Tracy K. Smith says we all need poetry, and even those of us who don't write poems can still learn how to see and hear the world through poetry.