Courtesy The Poetry Foundation

While poetry is often thought of as a way to capture the beauty of the world in words, it has also long been a vehicle for political dissent and social criticism. From Walt Whitman to Pablo Neruda, many of the world’s most famous poets frequently drew inspiration for their poetry from their politics. Carolyn Forché is carrying that legacy of socially engaged poetry into the 21st century.

April showers bring May flowers, but they also bring poetry! This is National Poetry month and poetry-related events are taking place in cities across the country. That includes MSU’s Spring Poetry Festival right here in East Lansing. One of this year’s guests is Terry Blackhawk, an award-winning Detroit poet who is also the Executive Director of InsideOut Literary Arts Project.

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April is poetry month and it seemed like the perfect time to bring back our occasional series of Public Poetry Announcements. In keeping with the weather, we have a spring themed poem.

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Plenty of musicians have drawn inspiration from famous poems. “Golden Slumbers” by the Beatles, for example, was based on a lullaby by Elizabethan poet Thomas Dekker. But while lots of musicians have been inspired by writers like Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson, they probably never got a chance to actually talk to them. A new collaboration between the Center for Poetry at MSU and the MSU College of Music is giving musicians a chance to actually interact with their poetic muses.


British actor Julian Sands is known for films like “A Room With a View” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”. On Sunday, he’ll bring his one-man show “A Celebration of Harold Pinter” to MSU’s Wharton Center.

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While we’ll be celebrating Independence Day here in America tomorrow, halfway around the world the date also marks a national holiday in Rwanda, though it’s a much more somber occasion.

July 4 is Rwanda's Liberation Day and it marks the end of the country’s official mourning period for the more than one million people who were murdered during the genocide there in 1994. And this year, of course, is the 20th anniversary of those horrific 100 days.

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Each year, in honor of National Poetry Month in April, MSU's Residential College in the Arts and Humanities’ Center for Poetry brings a series of poets to campus to conduct readings and workshops with the public. Current State spoke with Poetry Center Director Anita Skeen and Virginia Poet Laureate Sofia Starnes about this year’s festival, and both read from their works.

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Sarah Kay is a spoken word artist, teacher and author. She’s performed her poetry around the country, including at the Lincoln Center and the United Nations. Her TED Talk has gathered hundreds of thousands of views.

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Poetry, art, and Michigan. All have inspired local writer and artist Jeanne Van Wieren. The Williamston Enterprise columnist has published a book of her art and poetry called “This Mitten Is Tightly Knit”.

Today we’re starting a new recurring segment on Current State. It’s called Public Poetry Announcement.