Poetry & the Creative Mind 2008

On April 1, 2008, the Academy of American Poets held its sixth annual benefit, Poetry & The Creative Mind, at Avery Fisher Hall, Lincoln Center. Some of America’s leading artists, scholars, and public figures participated in this extraordinary evening celebrating the role of contemporary poetry in American culture. Poetry & The Creative Mind kicks off National Poetry Month, established by the Academy in 1996 and now the largest literary celebration in the world.

This year, our special guest readers were Candace Bushnell, Robert Caro, Graydon Carter, Katie Couric, Philippe de Montebello, Jonathan Demme, John Guare, Yusef Komunyakaa, Dianne Reeves, Liz Smith, and Meryl Streep. Each read poems by some of America’s best-loved poets, including Emily DickinsonRobert HaydenGertrude Stein, and Gwendolyn Brooks.


Katie Couric Backstage Video

"I think every important occasion and human event should be accompanied by a poem," says Meryl Streep in a backstage conversation with Katie Couric. Watch Couric's YouTube channel video coverage of Poetry & the Creative Mind.


Opening Remarks
Tree Swenson, Executive Director, Academy of American Poets

Yusef Komunyakaa
Robert Hayden, Names
Robert Hayden, Sphinx
Robert Hayden, Monet's Waterlilies

Jonathan Demme
Randall Jarrell, The Lost Children

Graydon Carter
Dorothy Parker, Our Office: A Hate Song

Liz Smith
Langston Hughes, Let America Be America Again
Edward Arlington Robinson, Miniver Cheevy

Philippe de Montebello
Theodore Roethke, The Geranium
Wallace Stevens, The Snow Man
Edna St.Vincent Millay, Dirge Without Music
Edgar Allan Poe, The Valley of Unrest
Ezra Pound, The Garden
W. H. Auden, Musee des Beaux Arts
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fable

Candace Bushnell
Gertrude Stein, from A Grammarian
Gertrude Stein, Stanzas in Meditation

Robert Caro
Robert Frost, The Bearer of Evil Tidings
Emily Dickinson, Hope is the thing with feathers
Emily Dickinson, A Man may make a Remark
Edward Hirsch, Branch Library
Edward Hirsch, Special Orders
Edward Hirsch, Elegy for the Jewish Villages

Dianne Reeves
Gwendolyn Brooks, A Song in the Front Yard
Gwendolyn Brooks, Queen of the Blues
James Weldon Johnson, Go Down Death

John Guare
William Carlos Williams, from Asphodel, That Greeny Flower

Katie Couric
Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Anti-Suffragists
Emily Dickinson, I measure every Grief I meet
E. E. Cummings, Maggie and Milly and Molly and May

Meryl Streep
Wallace Stevens, Sunday Morning
Walt Whitman, Miracles
Walt Whitman, A noiseless patient spider

Closing Remarks
Eunice J. Panetta, Chairman, Academy of American Poets