National Poetry Month & Conversation with Juliet Lubwama, 2017 National Student Poet
In today’s episode…
Saadia Faruqi shares some good novel-in-verse recommendations in her segment “Books You’ve Never Heard Of:”
- Can I Touch Your Hair: Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendships by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko.
- Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.
- May B. by Caroline Starr Rose.
- Serafina’s Promise, by Anne E. Berg.
- The Red Pencil by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Shane W. Evans.
- Planet Middle School by Nikki Grimes.
- Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry.
- One by Sarah Crossan.
- House Arrest by K. A. Holt.
- The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary by Laura Shovan.
- Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough.
Ann Braden shares her conversation with Juliet Lubwama, a high school senior and 2017 National Student Poet.
“Especially in my generation, our voices seem to be diminished, seen as invalid, but I believe that because we form the future our voices are so much more powerful, so definitely don’t be afraid to explore your truth and be able to share it into the world.”
— Juliet Lubwama
Here is Juliet reading her poem “Good Hair.”
Finally, the episode concludes with Ann’s segment “Moving Beyond: Because Books Have No Boundaries.”
I like poetry a lot, especially listening to it, and I absolutely loved getting to sit across from Juliet as she recited her poem. But writing poetry myself? I don’t know about you, but that’s when the terror sets in. Every word is so important. How are you supposed to come up with so many perfect words, let alone have them connect together to illuminate some fabulously deep meaning?
And yes, I’m a writer, so I know that you don’t just sit down and deliver up something perfect, I know that it means drafts and drafts and more drafts. But it’s still overwhelming to me to imagine how to even start.
But what about this? What it didn’t require lots of drafts and thinking, not because it was perfect to start, but because it never needed to be perfect? What if the world would end in three minute unless you could write a poem right then and it didn’t have to be anywhere near perfect? It just had to exist.
Okay, so I want to tell you about something super cool that’s going on in the world of poetry. It’s called typewriter rodeo. There are four writers in Austin, Texas – one of them being Kari Anne Holt whose books I adore – and they set up their vintage typewriters at a table, and then people come up to them and give them a random topic that they’d like a poem about: mangoes, jellyfish, a bad break-up, you name it. And then they write it . In about three minutes. With no delete key. Just words flowing — or more specifically words being pounded out one letter at a time.
And the poems aren’t going to be perfect, but they’re from the heart and that’s way more powerful than perfection.
They’re writing with abandon. And how freeing is that.
They’ve been asked to set up their typewriters at events all across the country, and they have a book that just came out called: Typewriter Rodeo.
I’ll include a link in the show notes so you can check out their website when you have a chance, because you’ve got to see the pictures of the people as they get to read their freshly-written poem about whatever topic was important to them. Their faces are filled with joy.
And actually that’s not so far off from saving the world, one poem at a time.
Check out the amazing Typewriter Rodeo!