Air Dates: June 19-25, 2023
Poetry comes in many forms. Dr. Joshua Bennett explores the history of “spoken word” and its expansion of the contours of poetry and its ability to capture the urgent, social issues of the day.
Bennett is the author of five award-winning books of poetry, criticism, and narrative nonfiction, including “Spoken Word: A Cultural History,” “The Study of Human Life,” which is currently being adapted for television in collaboration with Warner Brothers Studios, “Owed,” “Being Property Once Myself” and “The Sobbing School.” He has received fellowships and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Whiting Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. His writing has been published in The Atlantic, The Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. He has recited his original works at the Sundance Film Festival, the NAACP Image Awards, and President Obama’s Evening of Poetry and Music at the White House. He has also performed and taught creative writing workshops at hundreds of middle schools, high schools, colleges, and universities across the United States, in the U.K. and in South Africa. Bennett currently teaches literature at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He earned his Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and a master’s degree in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar.
On this episode of “Story in the Public Square,” Bennett discusses his passion for spoken word poetry. He says, “it’s a way that we’ve been building archives of our memories and our dreams and visions for as long as we’ve been alive.” He adds, “[Poetry] helps us say what we might not have the words for right away and so that’s part of what I’m trying to teach in the classrooms too, a reservoir of language that my students can turn to in moments not just of great difficulty, but great joy.”
“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11:00 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. ET, Sundays at 4:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. 9:30 p.m. ET, and Monday 2:30 a.m. ET, on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.