Don’t Put Yourself In A Box, Unless It’s On Twitter: Detroit Poet Reads #NPRpoetry

We’re going big on National Poetry Month by going small: We invite our readers to dabble in the literary genre with original Twitter-length poems.

This week, we enlisted the Detroit poet, playwright and performance artist Jessica Care Moore to pick her favorites from the #NPRpoetry feed. From San Francisco, Moore spoke to NPR’s Michel Martin about which verses stopped her scrolling thumb.

For the most part, she compiled a heartfelt bunch.

But Moore says when it comes to poetry, she also gravitates toward the honest and the complex. So naturally, Leigh’s poem caught her eye. “Because I think everyone’s mother has secrets,” she says. “I’m a mom. I might have a couple of my own, and you keep things from your children sometimes just for their own safety.”

JoyAnne O’Donnell’s juxtaposition of dandelions to a lion also stuck out to Moore. “I think the metaphor she’s using is that dandelions are strong. You know, despite everything, you still see a dandelion. Your rose bush might go away, but the dandelions seem to live forever, you know.”

Speaking from rainy San Francisco, Moore also connected to a “simple and soft” offering from Clyde The Poet; she notes pretty lines like “doors percuss.” We can only speculate what or who “Storm Tonight” is about, but Moore takes a stab: “He’s clearly talking about somebody he loves with almond eyes. And maybe they’re inside because it’s raining. And the rain is sideways because maybe they’re comfortable.”

As our poets flock to Twitter to pour their thoughts into a box, the performance artist has some advice for tweeters who may want to translate their work to the stage.

“Don’t limit yourself with boxes and labels,” Moore says. “There’s a lot of great poets who know how to rock a mic. So I would say absolutely study your craft, and read everything.”

And read everybody. “Read indigenous poets. Read Asian poets. Read African-American, poets of the African diaspora. Read European, American poets. Read the greats in all genres from different cultures and in different languages. If you’ve got a grasp on another language, do that.”

NPR’s Elizabeth Baker and Natalie Winston produced and edited this story for broadcast.

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