The Language of Life by Bill Moyers

Copyright 1995
Checked out 4 times in 15 years
Last checked out 10 years ago

This is a marvelous book of interviews with poets in which Moyers asks them about specific poems, which are included in full within the interview. The interviews were in conjunction with an actual poetry festival that gathered together an ethnically wide range of poets. The interviews reveal the diverse sources of inspiration for their poems.

My mother bought me this book many years ago, near the date of publication if not in that year, and it’s one of my favorites. It first introduced me to the poetry of Quincy Troupe and includes one of my favorite poems by Joy Harjo. It celebrates both the lives the poems spring from and the poems themselves. The different perspectives of the various poets can be read and reread with pleasure. They speak of what moves them in general as human beings as well as commenting on the art of poetry. As a result, many of the interviews would make good introductions to poetry for junior or senior high students (being careful to read the poetry first–some deal with harsh adult subject). I advocate keeping this book on the shelves as long as it holds up. As with most worthwhile books of poetry, I admit I’m unsure how to nudge people into partaking of its riches, but riches there are and it’s good to have such books on the shelves for people to stumble upon.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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