MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
It's April, so that means it's time to kick off our annual poetry month series, Muses and Metaphor. All month long, we are inviting you to tweet your original poems in 140 characters or less using the hashtag #TMMPoetry. This year, though, we have added a twist. We have invited some of the regular contributors that you hear in the Barbershop, the Beauty Shop, in our political chats and other segments to step outside of their comfort zones and try their hands at poetry. Joining us now to get us started is Connie Schultz. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and author of "...And His Lovely Wife: A Campaign Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man." Thank you for joining us.
CONNIE SCHULTZ: Thanks.
MARTIN: Also joining us, Fernando Espuelas. He is host and managing editor of "The Fernando Espuelas Show" on Univision. Fernando, welcome to you.
FERNANDO ESPUELAS: Thank you, Michel.
MARTIN: Thank you for joining us. I am so excited that both of you agreed to step outside of your normal comfort zones to do this and take a chance on this. So bravo, you. You're actually braver than I. I have never been persuaded to do this. I probably shouldn't have told you this until - but I'm telling you this after you've already written your poems.
SCHULTZ: Well, I'm glad my fear inspires you.
MARTIN: Exactly. Thank you so much. So you are in town from Cleveland...
MARTIN: ...And your poem was actually inspired by your flight. So let's hear it.
SCHULTZ: As you said, I come from Cleveland, where Superman was born. You knew that, right?
MARTIN: Of course.
SCHULTZ: He was really - he's not from Krypton. He's from - OK...
SCHULTZ: All right. Tardy planes, zero leg room, connections late at night. Superman, I hate to ask, but I sure could use the flight.
ESPUELAS: That's great.
MARTIN: I love that.
SCHULTZ: And I would look very cool riding on his back.
MARTIN: You totally would.
SCHULTZ: It's all figured out.
MARTIN: Totally would.
ESPUELAS: That's funny.
MARTIN: OK, Fernando, what about you?
ESPUELAS: OK. Well, I was in Uruguay last week, and this is inspired by that. Toes at the edge of the widest river, I imagine arrival of long-ago sailors, the slaughtered Charrua inevitable. Now all are dust, cold toes.
MARTIN: I love it. I love it. Well, thank you. So was it hard?
ESPUELAS: It was the hardest thing I've written in 25 years or so. Yeah. Yeah.
MARTIN: Well, thank you.
ESPUELAS: I loved it.
MARTIN: That's great. Well, what made you do it?
ESPUELAS: Well, you know, it was the challenge. And I also thought, I write basically one thing - about politics - and so the idea of just going into a totally different genre, of which I'm totally not qualified for, seemed like a challenge. And it took me a lot longer than it takes me to write a column, so - and I'm still unhappy with it, but I guess that's the nature of it.
MARTIN: I love it. Well, thank you for that. Well, in addition to your own poems, the other challenge that you've agreed to undertake is to look at the poems coming in on Twitter. So you've already picked some that have stood out for you. And you're going to share those. Connie, why don't you start?
SCHULTZ: OK, Platypus Tails @flirtybloomers wrote, her bones quite brittle, she slides down the banisters one last time. I love that. Martha Reynolds @TheOtherMartha1 - I am my mother's daughter, but she does not know my name. She called me Faye, and I said, Faye's dead. That made her laugh. So...good. And this is from Aaron - I'm going to apologize if I get the name wrong - Aaron Toleos @Toleos - morning commute, I can't go fast enough towards it, this fat blue sky, this flood above my knuckles and the wheel.
ESPUELAS: Oh, nice.
MARTIN: Nice. What were some of the things that made the poems stand out for you?
SCHULTZ: I think in each case, I could imagine that moment. And not to make it all about me, but apparently I made it all about me. I...
ESPUELAS: That's good poetry, though.
SCHULTZ: I could have made - but that's the thing.
SCHULTZ: It spoke to me. It didn't feel so obscure. And, you know, I'm the first to admit that when I love a poem - and I love poetry - there's something in it that makes me think a little bit harder about my own world. And so each of these and that whole driving...
SCHULTZ: ...Towards the - I just could - yeah. It was perfect.
MARTIN: Fernando, what about you?
ESPUELAS: OK, I picked two poems. And I'm going to be challenged by the names, but I will try it. The first one is by Namitha Varma-Rajesh. She's @namithavr, and she wrote, we worship the mundane, we love the mediocre, we're in awe of the ordinary, we are stagnating without knowing it. The second one is by Eusebeia Philos, which is @Eusebeia_Philos. Lepus chases Orion in pre-dawn sky over the horizon. I follow in my car on the way to work.
MARTIN: I love those both. What - and they're different. They're both different. What is it that stood out for you?
ESPUELAS: Well, Nimitha's poem about worshiping the mundane, I thought, speaks to a bigger truth in our society - very focused, I think, on trivia and not really focused on the bigger issues. And I do feel that in every society, even the most successful society throughout history, at any period of time, eventually, if it's not careful, will stagnate and fall into some sort of collapse, or it will collapse. In terms of the second one, I loved very much first of all, because I love all things Greek, and I love Orion. But I thought it was the combination of sort of the ancient imagery of sky over the horizon with the idea that I follow in my car on the way to work. Like, you know, we can transcend that moment where we are stuck in traffic and see perhaps a greater reality.
SCHULTZ: This is something we both picked, stuck in the car thing.
MARTIN: Tells you a little bit about our lives.
MARTIN: Well, thank you for taking the plunge. And so I want to again encourage that if these two busy people can do it, then you can do it. And also people who are already good at something else are willing to risk it, then you can do it, too. Do you have any advice for our other armchair or behind-the-wheel poets if they want to take a stab at this?
SCHULTZ: Well, I said on Facebook this morning, I know you have it in you. I mean, I've been reading their comments on my page for how many years now. I know how creative they are. I want a lot - some of them don't have Twitter accounts. I said, now's the time. Get on Twitter. I just think that there's something freeing about trying something that you're afraid will embarrass you, and you survive it. And you actually feel pretty good about it.
ESPUELAS: Yeah, I mean, what I found in my own experience of being completely panicked and then having to do it because I said I'd do it, is that this format - and especially the 140 characters - forces you to get to a deeper truth. And whether you do it for yourself or you do it for someone else, it's a really interesting exercise, what pops out of your brain in that context.
MARTIN: Well, thank you. Thank you both, and keep it coming. We know that you'll be watching our Twitter feed...
SCHULTZ: Every day.
MARTIN: ...And sending your best selections to us. Fernando Espuelas is host and managing editor of "The Fernando Espuelas Show," which is on Univision. Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. They were both kind enough to join us in our Washington, D.C. studios. Thank you both.
ESPUELAS: Thank you, Michel.
SCHULTZ: Thanks, Michel.
MARTIN: And remember, Muses and Metaphor continues all months. So send us your original Twitter poems using the hashtag #TMMPoetry.
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