Ars Poetica #100: I Believe by Elizabeth Alexander
On Being with Krista Tippett
Elizabeth Alexander reads her poem, “Ars Poetica #100: I Believe.” This poem is included in our “Taking the Long View” playlist on Spotify, which we created to get grounded in reflection that will be with us the day after the U.S. election and far beyond, whoever wins. Find more of Elizabeth’s poems on our website, where we’ve recently launched an entirely new way to Experience Poetry.
“How is it that these people, brought involuntarily and denied their humanity, have created and invented the culture that has rocked the world for hundreds of years? Black music, Black dance, in different variations inventing the form of the slave narrative. What Black poetry has done over the course, especially of the last century… I think that there is a relationship between being denied humanity and voice with finding voice and self-expression.” Elizabeth Alexander, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, shares her thoughts on the intersection of social justice and the arts.
Into the Trayvon Generation with Elizabeth Alexander
Dr. Elizabeth Alexander is an author, a teacher, a philanthropist and a scholar. But most people know her as a poet. In 2009, she performed her poem “Praise Song for the Day,” at the inauguration of President Barack Obama, reminding us of the ancestors who’ve led us to the progress we see today. She urged us: “Say it plain: that many have died for this day.”Alexander is now the President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the country’s largest funder of arts and culture. This year, they’re working with a grantmaking budget of $500 million. Every dollar of that will go towards social justice projects, including the newly launched “Million Book Project” to bring literature to prisons across the U.S.Recently, Alexander published an intense and beautiful essay in the New Yorker magazine called “The Trayvon Generation,” about her sons, and all the other young Black Americans who’ve grown up knowing the trauma of Black death — often captured on video, reposted over and over again on social media.On Into America, host Trymaine Lee talks to Elizabeth Alexander about pain, about philanthropy, and, of course, about poetry. For a transcript, please visit https://www.msnbc.com/intoamerica.Further Reading:Elizabeth Alexander’s New Yorker Essay “The Trayvon Generation” The Million Book Project
What is the role of poetry in the midst of difficulty?On episode 062, Paul Holdengräber is joined by poet, scholar, and president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Elizabeth Alexander. They discuss the importance of art, and in particular, how poetry can serve as a place to bring our deepest questions, even in the midst of trial.Elizabeth Alexander – poet, educator, memoirist, scholar, and cultural advocate – is president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder in arts and culture, and humanities in higher education. Dr. Alexander has held distinguished professorships at Smith College, Columbia University, and Yale University, where she taught for 15 years and chaired the African American Studies Department. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, serves on the Pulitzer Prize Board, and co-designed the Art for Justice Fund. Notably, Alexander composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2009, and is author or co-author of fourteen books. Her book of poems, American Sublime, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2006, and her memoir, The Light of the World, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography in 2015.The Trayvon Generation by Elizabeth Alexander (The New Yorker, 2020)
In solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, we here at the New York Neo-Futurists are taking a moment of pause – to deeply pay attention to the voices of our community that are asking us to listen, and to activate our roles in refusing to tune out. Instead of this week’s regular episodes of Hit Play, we're featuring an episode of Helga from WNYC Studios and WQXR. Take a listen, subscribe to, and share their work. On this show, Helga Davis brings a soulful curiosity and love of people to her "Everyday Conversations with Extraordinary People”. Her guest on this episode is Elizabeth Alexander, poet, educator, memoirist, and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President. Helga is produced by Krystal Hawes, technical direction by Curtis MacDonald, executive produced by Lukas Krohn-Grimberghe. Hit Play's logo was designed by Shelton Lindsay Hit Play is produced by Anthony Sertel Dean, Julia Melfi, and Léah Miller Take care
Poet and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation President, Elizabeth Alexander joins Helga to talk about what it means to live a life alongside words, how we maintain relationships with one another, and what the world looks like after loss. Subscribe to Helga, wherever you get your podcasts.