I’m a huge fan of the online TED Talks, and each member of my family has their favorite topics to watch from skateboarding to architecture to comic books. I recently went on a TED Talk binge, watching nearly everything I could find related to my favorite subject, poetry. There are loads of them, and here’s a list of my top 5 faves:
*Why People Need Poetry, Stephen Burt
Burt, a professor and literary critic shares his favorite poems and discusses the beauty and life-changing power of poetry. “We’re all going to die,” he says, “and poems can help us live with that.” Burt is funny and heart warmingly passionate about poetry and language.
*If I Should Have a Daughter, Sarah Kay
Sparkling spoken word poet Sarah Kay talks about falling in love with spoken word poetry at the age of 14, performing at New York’s Bowery Poetry Club, finding her voice as a poet and later becoming a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-expression through Project V.O.I.C.E. Along the way, she gives two powerful performances of her own work.
*Everyday Moments Caught in Time, Billy Collins
Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins shares a project in which several of his poems were turned into animated films in a collaboration with Sundance Channel. Witty, thoughtful and deeply funny, this short talk is a real treat.
*To This Day, For the Bullied and the Beautiful, Shane Koyczan
Koyczan talks about what it’s like to be young and different in “To This Day,” his spoken-word poem about bullying. The poem is also a viral video created, crowd-source style, by 80 animators from around the world. In the TED version, he offers a gorgeous reprise with backstory and violin accompaniment.
*High School Training Ground, Malcom London.
Young poet and activist Malcom London performs his thought-provoking poem about life in an urban high school. He tells of the “oceans of adolescence” who come to school “but never learn to swim,” of “masculinity mimicked by men who grew up with no fathers.” He is a strong and passionate poet, with finely crafted language and a clever approach to a difficult topic.