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On the Power of Poetry: A Conversation with Prof. Kara Provost


Published August 12, 2020 by Barrington Public Library
37 minutes and 42 seconds


Barrington Public Library's Community Engagement Librarian, Jessica D'Avanza is joined by Kara Provost, a professor who teaches in the writing program at Curry College. Kara shares with us the many ways that poetry is used to process difficult emotions, pain, times of uncertainty and of course—joy! She shares two haiku she wrote while teaching a socially distant haiku writing workshop for the library on Zoom.

Here are links to many of the poets and poetry resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Naomi Shihab Nye - contemporary American poet 
  • Joy Harjo - contemporary Muscogee (Creek) poet, playwright, and musician who was appointed US poet laureate in 2019 
  • Li-Young Lee - contemporary Chinese-American poet. Kara loves his poem "Word for Worry" from Book of My Nights. 
  • Kay Ryan: former US poet laureate and LGBTQ writer 
  • Ocean Vuong - young gay Vietnamese-American poet and novelist whose most recent book is Night Sky with Exit Wounds
  • Tracy K. Smith - contemporary African American poet and another former US poet laureate whose most recent book is Life on Mars 
  • Rigoberto Gonzales - contemporary gay Latino poet  
  • Quincy Troupe - African American poet influenced by jazz and blues and is a great reader of his work 
  • Phil Levine - working-class poet from Detroit 
  • Mark Doty - contemporary gay poet whose poems range from humorous to lyrical to intensely emotional 
  • Mary Oliver - writes about the natural world and animals and lived for many years on Cape Cod 
  • Dorianne Laux - contemporary American poet who grew up in Maine 
  • Lucille Clifton - African American poet from New York who is also a wonderful reader of her work
  • Jericho Brown - contemporary African American LGBTQ poet from Louisiana whose book The Tradition won the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for poetry 
  • Tina Chang - contemporary Chinese-American poet who was named the first women poet laureate of Brooklyn in 2010 
  • Claudia Rankine - contemporary African American author whose recent work Citizen is a series of prose poems exploring race in America 
  • Bob Hicok and Billy Collins are two of Kara's favorite writers who often use humor to get a serious subject in their poems 
  • Andrea Gibson - contemporary American lesbian poet who is big on the spoken word scene 
  • Sign up for Poem-A-Day in your inbox by the Academy of American Poets  
  • Poetry Dose podcast by RI poet laureate Tina Cane, features interviews, discussions, and readings of poetry by current writes, often with a RI connection

Kara Provost has published two chapbooks, Topless (Main Street Rag, 2011) and Nests (Finishing Line Press, 2006), in addition to six microchapbooks with the Origami Poems project ( Her poems have appeared in the Skinny Poetry Journal, Connecticut Review, Ocean State Review, Main Street Rag, The Newport Review, Ibbetson Street, New Verse News, and other journals. Kara’s work can also be found in a number of anthologies, including Credo: Manifestos and Sourcebook for Creative Writing (Cambridge Writers’ Workshop 2018); Nuclear Impact: Shattered Atoms in Our Hands (Shabda Press 2017); Shifts: Women’s Growth through Change (MuseWrite Press 2016); the Wickford Art Association 2013 exhibit catalog, Poetry and Art; Lay Bare the Canvas: New England Poets on Art; and In Praise of Pedagogy: Poetry, Flash Fiction, and Essays on Composing, edited by David Starkey and Wendy Bishop. 

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