Robert Pinsky visits NPR headquarters in Washington D.C., on Thursday. Ebony Bailey/NPR hide caption

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Natasha Trethewey Joel Benjamin/ hide caption

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Natasha Trethewey, 46, is among the youngest U.S. poet laureates and the first to hail from the South since Robert Penn Warren was named by the Library of Congress in 1986. Joel Benjamin/ hide caption

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Carmen Gimenez Smith visits NPR headquarters in Washington on Monday. Claire O'Neill/NPR hide caption

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Monica Youn visits NPR headquarters in Washington on Friday. Doriane Raiman/NPR hide caption

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Poet-for-hire Zach Houston works at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. Houston says he is paid about $2 to $20 for each poem. Ralph Wiedemeier/NPR hide caption

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Marie Howe is the author of three collections of poetry. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

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Teju Cole is a Nigerian-American writer, photographer and art historian. He is the author of the 2012 PEN/Hemingway Award-winning Open City. Teju Cole hide caption

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Nikky Finney is an award-winning poet and the Provost's Distinguished Service Professor of English at the University of Kentucky. Noah Adams/NPR hide caption

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The Beauty And Difficulty Of Poet Nikky Finney

"Art is about being provocative," says the award-winning poet. "Art is also about beauty and if you leave the latter out, the former doesn't matter."

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