On April 29, 2021, the Academy of American Poets hosted the 18th annual Poetry & the Creative Mind gala, presented virtually for the first time. We celebrated the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Month—an annual occasion launched by the Academy of American Poets to celebrate poetry’s important place in our culture and its impact on the lives of readers. The financial support we received that evening continues to help the Academy publish poems, champion poets, and supply educators with free resources and activities that enable them to share poetry with their students.
“The Future is an Animal” by Tina Chang
“White Sands” by Arthur Sze
“It Is Maybe Time to Admit That Michael Jordan Definitely Pushed Off,” by Hanif Abdurraqib.
“Eve Remembering” by Toni Morrison.
Read and share the full anthology of poems featured in the reading. To share this anthology, click “options” and scroll down to the social icons near the bottom.
Special thanks to our Poet Hosts:
Beth Ann Fennelly
Janice Lobo Sapigao
John Warner Smith
David St. John
Elizabeth Alexander’s collections of poetry include Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010 (Graywolf Press, 2010); American Sublime (Graywolf Press, 2005), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; Antebellum Dream Book (Graywolf Press, 2001); Body of Life (Tia Chucha Press, 1996); and The Venus Hottentot (University Press of Virginia, 1990). Her memoir, The Light of the World (Grand Central Publishing, 2015), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
About Alexander’s poetry, Rita Dove writes that “the poems bristle with the irresistible quality of a world seen fresh,” and Clarence Major notes Alexander’s “instinct for turning her profound cultural vision into one that illuminates universal experience.”
In 2007, Alexander was selected by Lucille Clifton, Stephen Dunn, and Jane Hirshfield to receive the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers. Her other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize, the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at the University of Chicago, and the George Kent Award, given by Gwendolyn Brooks.
Lauren Ambrose can currently be seen on the Apple TV+ series Servant, created by M. Night Shyamalan. On Broadway, she starred as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady, a performance that won her the Outer Critics Circle Award and Tony nomination. Additional stage credits include Awake and Sing! at Lincoln Center, Exit the King on Broadway, and Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet at the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park. A two-time Emmy Award nominee for her performance as Claire Fisher in the HBO series Six Feet Under, she has also starred in Where the Wild Things Are; Wanderlust; Sleepwalk with Me; Starting Out in the Evening; I’m Coming Over; The River; The Return of Jezebel James; Torchwood; The Interestings; Monsters of God; Dig; and The X-Files.
Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, Sandra Oh started working professionally at age sixteen in television, theatre and commercials. Currently, Oh stars on and serves as an Executive Producer for the critically acclaimed Killing Eve for which she won a historic Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Drama Series, a SAG Award, a Critics Choice Award and three Emmy nominations. Killing Eve will return for a fourth season.
Oh can also currently be heard on Amazon’s animated show Invincible, and can be seen in the recent films Over the Moon and Raya and the Last Dragon. She can next be seen in the limited series The Chair. In 2019, she co-hosted the Golden Globe Awards as well as an episode of Saturday Night Live, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Oh won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award and received two Emmy nominations for her role as Dr. Cristina Yang on Grey’s Anatomy.
Samin Nosrat is a cook, teacher, and author of the James Beard Award-winning #1 New York Times Bestseller Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (Simon & Schuster, 2017). She is a former Eat columnist at The New York Times Magazine and the host and an executive producer of the Netflix original documentary series based on her book.
The Mountain Goats are John Darnielle, Peter Hughes, Jon Wurster, and Matt Douglas. They have been making music together as a quartet for several years. Three of them live in North Carolina and one has moved back to Rochester, New York. Their songs often seek out dark lairs within which terrible monsters dwell, but their mission is to retrieve the treasure from the dark lair and persuade the terrible monsters inside to seek out the path of redemption. As Axl Rose once memorably asked, in the song “Terrible Monster”: “What’s So Terrible About Monsters, Anyway?” this is the question The Mountain Goats have been doggedly pursuing since 1991. They will never leave off this quest until every option has been exhausted.
Delroy Lindo recently starred in Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, for which he received a NY Film Critics Award for Best Actor. He’s had memorable film roles in The Cider House Rules; Heist; Ransom; Get Shorty and previously garnered acclaim for a trio of films with Spike: Clockers; Crooklyn, and Malcolm X. He’ll next be seen in The Harder They Fall for Netflix.
On TV, Lindo starred on CBS’ The Good Fight as Adrian Boseman. He won a Peabody Award for Strange Justice and the NAACP Award for Law & Order: SVU. On Broadway, Lindo received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations, playing Herald Loomis in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone; and played Walter Lee in A Raisin in the Sun (Helen Hayes Award Nomination/NAACP Image Award-Best Actor).
Lindo directed The Blue Door and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone to critical acclaim at Berkeley Repertory Theater; and won a LA Theater Weekly Award directing Medal of Honor Rag. He has an Honorary Doctorate in Arts/Humanities from Virginia Union University; BFA degree (cum laude) from SF State University; and MFA from NYU’s Gallatin School.
Richard Blanco is the Education Ambassador of the Academy of American Poets. In his role, he helps champion the organization’s free resources for teachers, student projects, and other education initiatives. He is the author of the poetry collections How to Love a Country (Beacon Press, 2019); Directions to the Beach of the Dead (University of Arizona Press, 2005), winner of the 2006 PEN/American Center Beyond Margins Award; and City of a Hundred Fires (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998), winner of the 1997 Agnes Lynch Starrett National Poetry Prize.
He is also the author of a memoir, The Prince of los Cocuyos (Ecco Press, 2014), a Lambda Literary Award–winning account of his childhood and adolescence coming to terms with his sexual, national, and cultural identities, and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey (Beacon Press, 2013). His inaugural poem, One Today, was also published as a children’s book illustrated by Dav Pilkey (Little, Brown, 2015).
Sandra Cisneros describes Blanco’s poems as “sad, tender, and filled with longing. Like an old photograph, a saint’s statue worn away by the devout, a bolero on the radio on a night full of rain. Me emocionan. There is no other way to say it. They emotion me.”
Joy Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. She is serving her third term as the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, and is a poet, musician, and playwright. She is the author of several books of poetry, including An American Sunrise (W. W. Norton, 2019); The Woman Who Fell From the Sky (W. W. Norton, 1994), which received the Oklahoma Book Arts Award; and In Mad Love and War (Wesleyan University Press, 1990), which received an American Book Award and the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award. Her memoir Crazy Brave (W. W. Norton, 2012) won the 2013 PEN Center USA literary award for creative nonfiction. Harjo has also published collections of interviews and conversations, children's books, and collaborative art texts.
In 2015 she received the Wallace Stevens Award for proven mastery in the art of poetry from the Academy of American Poets. About Harjo, Chancellor Alicia Ostiker said, “Throughout her extraordinary career as poet, storyteller, musician, memoirist, playwright and activist, Joy Harjo has worked to expand our American language, culture, and soul. A Creek Indian and student of First Nation history, Harjo is rooted simultaneously in the natural world, in earth—especially the landscape of the American southwest—and in the spirit world. Aided by these redemptive forces of nature and spirit, incorporating native traditions of prayer and myth into a powerfully contemporary idiom, her visionary justice-seeking art transforms personal and collective bitterness to beauty, fragmentation to wholeness, and trauma to healing.”
Terrance Hayes’s most recent publications include American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin (Penguin, 2018) and To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (Wave, 2018). To Float In The Space Between was winner of the Poetry Foundation’s 2019 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism and a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin won the Hurston/Wright 2019 Award for Poetry and was a finalist the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry, the 2018 TS Eliot Prize for Poetry, and the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Hayes is a Professor of English at New York University.
Jason Reynolds is an award-winning and #1 New York Times bestselling author. Jason’s many books include Miles Morales: Spider Man, the Track series (Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and Lu), Long Way Down, which received a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor, and a Correta Scott King Honor, and Look Both Ways, which was a National Book Award Finalist. His latest book, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, is a collaboration with Ibram X. Kendi. Jason is the 2020-2021 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and has appeared on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and CBS This Morning. He is on faculty at Lesley University, for the Writing for Young People MFA Program and lives in Washington, DC.
Sarah Sze gleans objects and images from worlds both physical and digital, assembling them into complex multimedia works that shift scale between microscopic observation and macroscopic perspective on the infinite. Her dynamic, generative body of work spans sculpture, painting, drawing, printmaking, video, and installation while addressing the precarious nature of materiality and grappling with matters of entropy and temporality.
Born in Boston, Sze earned a BA from Yale University in 1991 and an MFA from the School of Visual Arts, New York, in 1997. Sze was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2003 and a Radcliffe Fellowship in 2005. In 2013, she represented the United States at the Venice Biennale. Her work is exhibited in arts institutions worldwide and held in the permanent collections of prominent museums such as The Museum of Modern Art and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Tate, London, and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. Sze has created public works for institutions including the Seattle Opera House, The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and LaGuardia Airport, New York. She lives and works in New York, NY.
Jonathan Galassi is the former Board Chairman of the Academy of American Poets and the current President of Farrar, Straus & Giroux. He is a writer, acclaimed translator, and the author of three poetry collections.
Oscar- and Emmy-winning actress Regina King has a decades-spanning Hollywood career. For her role in Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, King won the Academy Award among many other accolades. King has also directed episodes of acclaimed television series such as THIS IS US, Scandal and Insecure.
Recently, King earned another Emmy for HBO’s Peabody Award-winning Watchmen. She made her directorial feature film debut with One Night in Miami, becoming the first black female director to debut a film at the 77th Annual Venice International Film Festival. One Night in Miami has been nominated for multiple awards including three Oscar nominations.
King is known for memorable roles in films like Jerry Maguire, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Enemy of the State, and Boyz n the Hood. She stars in Netflix’s upcoming feature film The Harder They Fall with Idris Elba out later this year.
For over forty years, Meryl Streep continues to bring a varied and vivid array of characters to life in a career that has cut its own unique path from the theatre through film and television.
Educated in the New Jersey public school system through high school, Ms. Streep graduated cum laude from Vassar College and received her MFA with Honors from Yale University. She began her professional life on the New York stage, where she quickly established her signature versatility and verve as an actor. Within three years of graduation, she made her Broadway debut, won an Emmy for Holocaust and received her first Oscar nomination for The Deer Hunter. She has won three Academy Awards, and in 2018, in a record that is unsurpassed, she earned her 21st Academy Award nomination for her role as Katharine Graham in The Post.
She was most recently seen in HBO’s second season of Big Little Lies, Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated Little Women, Steven Soderbergh’s Let Them All Talk, and Ryan Murphy’s film adaptation of the hit-Broadway musical The Prom. She will next be seen in Adam McKay’s Don’t Look Up for Netflix.
She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has been accorded a Commandeur de L’Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French government. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the AMERICAN Film Institute, the same honor in 2008 from the Film Society of Lincoln Center, and the 2010 National Medal of Arts from President Obama. In 2011, Ms Streep received a Kennedy Center Honor, and in 2014 the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She holds honorary degrees from ten colleges and universities.
Andrews McMeel Publishing
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Penguin Random House
W. W. Norton and Co.
William Campbell and Christine Wächter-Campbell
Timothy and Ruth Carey
Patricia Grodd and Michael Stone
Penn and Diane Holsenbeck
John and Susan Jackson
Hon. Thomas H. Kean
Donald Kent and Frank Cassaniti, Bernstein Private Wealth
Andrew Schiff and Alexandra Wolfe Schiff
William Zabel and Deborah Miller Zabel
Michael Jacobs and Sheridan Hay
Camille Lannan and Yury Gitman
Bruno Navasky and Melissa Ozawa
With additional support from
Jim and J'Ann Allen, Linette Marie Allen, Luis Alberto Ambroggio, Virginia Anderson, Gail Evelyn Apgar, Stephen Avery, Susan Vartanian Barba, Liza and William Bennett, Michael A. Boyd, Ciara Burnham, Timothy Calaway, Lucinda Johnson Clark, Joyce Coleman, Walt Cooper, Georgia Court, Carter M. Cramer, Ellen and Pierre de Saint Phalle, Michelle Despres, Margaret H. Douglas-Hamilton, Mary Jo D. Eagen, David Egger, Kathryn Fleming, Patricia Fontaine, Linda Nemec Foster, Jonathan Fried, Jill Gerson Parker, Marian Godfrey, Peter and Cathy Halstead, David Hariton, Rayna M. Harman, Bob Hass, Helen Houghton, Kake Huck, Kristin Jautz, Ian Kennedy, Mary-Ellen Kreher, Nils Larsen, Barbara Lee and Alston Gardner, Dr. Tom Madden, Jessica and Paul Maich, Susan E. Master, Peter Mennella, Kenneth W. Moore, Robert W. Newcomb, Pastor Amy Nyman, Tess O'Dwyer, Judith Overmier, KJ Page, Jan Madeleine Paynter, Gerald Richards, Jill Delano Ridder, Elda Rotor, Carlene Sawyer, Tim Schaffner, Jacqueline Schiff, Cynthia J. Schumacher, John Shannon and Jan Serr, Marte Singerman, Darcy Smith, Elizabeth Sobol, Valerie Sopher, Lynne Stebbins, Matthew T. Stone, Landey Strongin, Rose Styron, Carlos Toomer, Patricia Traxler, Dawn Tripp, Seymour Ubell and Marsha Tosk, Elizabeth Wade and Colin Rafferty, Arete Warren, Mel and Cindy Yoken, and Holly Ulmer York