Calfornia's New Poet Laureate

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Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has named a new California poet laureate: Al Young. Born in Mississippi, the 65-year-old poet, teacher, novelist and screenwriter has spent most of his life in the San Francisco Bay Area. He reads his poem To Be The Perfect Fool.


We close our program today with a poem. Al Young is California's new poet laureate. He was born in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, 65 years ago. He spent most of his life in the San Francisco Bay area. Al Young is also a novelist, teacher and screenwriter. He's been writing verse since he was in his teens. He's also got some radio experience, and it's clear in reading his poems that music is an inspiration. For years, he hosted jazz shows on public radio stations in Berkeley and Detroit, and he's got the voice to prove it. Here's Al Young reading his poem "To Be The Perfect Fool."

Mr. AL YOUNG (Poet Laureate): `To be the perfect fool ain't all that bad. You mess yourself up mostly. No one else cares, really, what you do. Why should you add more worry to their night? Go work your spells elsewhere, someplace where pride and making sense don't count. Jump to your own conclusion, run. Where fools and money part, you can dispense with chance. All foolishness can be no fun. You bet against yourself. The perfect fool, divine intelligence, the muse, the gods, whatever works or doesn't. What's uncool? To put it plainly, just what are the odds of you, the lover, coming out ahead when bombs this sad world drops come down with bread?'

MONTAGNE: Al Young, California's new poet laureate, reading his poem, "To Be The Perfect Fool."

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.

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