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Poetry is often relegated to academia, but both Bobby McFerrin and Natalie Merchant think poetry is the literary art most relevant to our lives today. It certainly is for Amber Rose Johnson, the 16-year-old winner of the national Poetry Out Loud competition sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. She recites some of the works she won with, and tells Jim Fleming about the value of poetry in her life. Singer Natalie Merchant rediscovered poetry in the company of her young daughter. Her new album, Leave Your Sleep, is a collection of songs adapted from poems by Victorian and early 20th century poets. She tells Anne Strainchamps how she came to love these works.
Then, Poems are different things to different people: solace, a call to action, beauty. But to Rae Armantrout there is one thing that all poetry should be - read out loud. She recently won the Pulitzer Prize for her book of poetry Versed. Producer Charles Monroe Kane loved it so much he just had to talk to her.
Bobby McFerrin is widely known for his '80s hit "Don't Worry, Be Happy," but he is admired for many other things. For the past eight years, he's devoted himself to a project called Vocabularies, which is now out as an album. It's a mix of 1,400 separate tracks sung by 50 different singers, and he tells Steve Paulson it was a labor of love. [Broadcast Date: July 14, 2010]