Kevin Young, News Poet

April 2, 2012

kevin youngKevin Young, Atticus Haygood Professor of Creative Writing and English, composed and read his version of the news in verse on the National Public Radio show All Things Considered. 

Young’s appearance was a continuation of a project called NewsPoet, in which a poet spends a few hours in the NPR newsroom listening to reports of the day’s events, then reflects his experience in poetry at the end of the day. 

According to All Things Considered host Audie Cornish, Young took careful notes at the morning meeting while the staff pitched ideas. “People seemed very calm about it,” said Young on the NPR Website, even though they had “a spy in their midst.”

One segment in particular, about what might happen if Texas seceded from the U.S., caught his attention. “I had spent last May in Texas, living there and writing,” Young said. His poem built on the story's theme and began to imagine the challenges of creating a new currency and a new anthem. He combined it with another news story that detailed the demise of the Canadian penny. “Somehow trade relations with Canada seemed to play in. . . . The death of the penny became the death of other things, and a way of mourning something perhaps more grand,” Young said.

The result was “Anthem”:


Life is a near
death experience.
You can go
to hell, I'm goin
to Texas. It costs
more than a penny
to make a penny.
A dollar for your

thoughts, and a dream.

Click here to read the rest of the poem and the full article on the NPR website.

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