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NewsPoet: Philip Schultz Writes The Day In Verse

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
September 28, 2012

Today at All Things Considered, we continue a project we’re calling NewsPoet. Each month, we bring in a poet to spend time in the newsroom — and at the end of the day, to compose a poem reflecting on the day’s stories.

The series has included Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith as well as Craig Morgan Teicher, Kevin Young, Monica Youn, Carmen Gimenez Smith, former poet laureate Robert Pinsky,Paisley Rekdal and Tess Taylor.

Today, poet Philip Schultz brings us the news in verse. He founded The Writers Studio in 1987 and has written many works of fiction and poetry, including Living in the Past, The Holy Worm of Praise; and Like Wings which won a National Book Award nomination. He received the 2005 Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry. He won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his collection, Failure. His most recent book of poems is The God of Loneliness. He is also the author of a memoir, My Dyslexia. You can click here to read an interview he did about this topic.

Philip Schultz sat down with NPR’s Melissa Block to talk about his experience at All Things Considered, and about the poem that he composed for today’s show. Most NewsPoets have felt some panic and anxiety throughout the day, trying to write a poem on deadline, but Schultz seemed immune to that. When Block commented on his cheerful smile, he remarked, “I’ve had the time of my life. Watching everyone and how you all do this huge job — everyone seems so calm and knowledgeable and smart. I love it.”

Schultz sat in on the daily meetings for the major news shows. He told Block that he had come to NPR’s headquarters with an idea for what to write about, but “25 minutes into the first meeting of the day… I realize that was going to go.” Instead he said, “the news for me today were the people around the table.”

The All Things Considered meeting was especially interesting for Schultz. “It’s a huge table,” he said, “and a large gathering of people. And I saw how everyone is so comfortable … there was just no sign of any ego or tension.” He compared the setting to his own experiences working in academia: “there was all kind of friction and it wasn’t fun.” But at ATC “it was like you all were on the same side, you had this job to do. There was this kind of espirit de coeur, this special comradery , that I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.

“Are you sure we were at the same meeting,” Block joked.

Schultz assured her that they were. “You were no small part of it,” he told her. In fact, the show’s hosts, editors and producers made him so comfortable, he said they’d make his “ideal dinner party.” High praise indeed from a man who describes himself as never comfortable at dinner parties.

“And so I decided to write about that,” said Schultz. You can see the poem he came up with below.

The NPR Morning Meetings

BY PHILIP SCHULTZ

Much lively discussion of, say, an orchestrabeing integrated into larger programs to stave offmore lay-offs, plastic boulders chasing people for fun,the anti-Muslim video producer arrested onquestionable charges not unlike Al Caponegoing up on tax evasion, bypassing the devioushighways of the 1st amendment — not to mentionblueprints of their new building, fittings forergonomic chairs that afternoon — I’m here to writeabout the news but the news today is this gatheringof remarkable people, mostly women, an allegianceof shared endeavor, 30 Sisyphuses being chasedby the endless cycle of world-sized boulders,a festival of street smart camaraderie, the worldin all its raw magnificence, this room growing olderby the minute, not anything I know, the objectnot ego but a mission to select, qualify and articulatea lasting quality to all those trusting, downcast,yearning ears hungry to be astonished by the truth.

All Things Considered’s NewsPoet is produced and edited by Ellen Silva and Justine Kenin with production assistance from Rose Friedman. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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