Previous: Why Does Australia... (this video is bad, I'm sorry)
Next: Crisis



View count:292,543
Last sync:2023-01-29 16:15
Ours Poetica:

In which John discusses Marianne Moore's poem "Poetry," the role poetry plays in his life, and Ours Poetica, our new channel in collaboration with the Poetry Foundation. POEMS MENTIONED IN THIS VIDEO:

"On the Night I Consider Coming Out to My Parents," by Julian Randall can be found here: or in Julian's wonderful book, Refuse:

Marianne Moore's "Poetry" (the version before she deleted most of it) can be found here:

Paige Lewis's "On the Train, A Man Snatches My Book, Reads" can be found in their brilliant forthcoming book Space Struck:

Emily Dickinson's poem (usually known as 340) can be found here:

Thanks to the Poetry Foundation for making the world better.

Subscribe to our newsletter!
And join the community at
Help transcribe videos -
John's twitter -
Hank's twitter -
Hank's tumblr -
Listen to The Anthropocene Reviewed at
Listen to Dear Hank and John at
Good morning Hank, it’s Tuesday. So there's this Mary-Anne Moore poem called “Poetry” which begins...

Which is more or less how I felt about poetry for much of my life. Partly because it seemed a little dead, in the sense that, like, all the poets I could name were in fact, dead. So there didn’t seem to be like, a present tense to poetry.

But also I never felt smart enough to “get” poetry. Like, I thought to read a poem well you had to be able to know that the wolf howling in the distance represented the poets dead father or whatever. And that if you could figure that out, you were good at reading poems, and if you couldn’t, you were bad at reading them. In which case, I was bad.

So I mostly quit reading poems, and tried instead to focus on the things that were important beyond all that fiddle. But it turns out, I love poetry.

As Mary-Anne Moore puts it later in that poem, “One discovers in it after all, a place for the genuine.” And I am desperate to discover places for the genuine.

And I’m also desperate for language that will help me understand the weird, and overwhelming worlds I encounter within, and without, and *that's* what poetry does for me.

So much of my experience in the world is just like, resistant to language which makes it hard for me to understand. Like, I find it very difficult to describe my anxiety, until I read a Paige Louis poem which they write “I feel as if I’m on the moon, listening to the air hiss out of my spacesuit, and I can’t find the rip. I’m the vice president of panic, and the president is missing.”

And I find it hard to understand and describe how in a bout with depression it feels like reality is falling out from beneath me, until I read Emily Dickinson write, “And then, a plank in reason broke, and I dropped down, and down, and hit a world at every plunge.”

And I also need poetry because it helps me imagine other people and their experiences more complexly. And so working with the aforementioned Paige Louis, we started a new YouTube channel, in collaboration with The Poetry Foundation called “Ours Poetica”. It features a poem read to you every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

The readers might be poets like, Paige Louis, or non-poets like Shayleen Woodly. I think there are a lot of people out there who love poetry, but just don’t yet *know* that they love poetry. And this channel is for you!

Like, you think that you might not like poetry, but listen to this poem by Julian Randall from yesterday’s episode.

My name’s Julian Randall and I’ll be reading my poem On the Night I Consider Coming Out to my Parents, which I wrote in the aftermath of the Pulse shooting.

I just love that poem. Thank you to Julian and everyone who has participated in Ours Poetica, I hope you’ll check it out at the link in the doobly-doo below, and subscribe, and that you will find in it, as I have, a place for the genuine.

Hank, I’ll see you on Friday.