Skip to Content
http://www.wgbh.org/authenticate/login
wgbh News

Listen
Richard Blanco on BPR, 11/19/2018

Poet Richard Blanco Shares New Spins on Old Forms

Nancy Sinatra 1969
Pop singer Nancy Sinatra is shown performing at her opening in Las Vegas, Sept. 18, 1969.
AP/AP
Listen
Richard Blanco on BPR, 11/19/2018

Everything old is new again — in poetry, that is.

Richard Blanco, the nation's fifth presidential inaugural poet and author, most recently of the collaboration "Boundaries," joined Boston Public Radio to share his favorite modern takes on classic poetry forms.

Blanco specifically chose to explore a form called the "pantoum" poem, which originated from Malaysia in the 1400s. Each consists of four-line stanzas where lines are methodically repeated. The effect is rhythmic and melodic, with the repeated lines taking on new meanings with each use.

"It's kind of like a basketweave effect," Blanco explained.

It may be surprising to learn that these thoroughly modern poems (including an ode to singer Nancy Sinatra) are taking cues from ancient forms, Blanco added.

"People always think that poets today only write free verse, free verse, free verse," he said. "Really, we do work a lot with really old forms and just try to do fun things with them and bring them up to speed, and do variations with them and honor their tradition."

Follow along with the poetry discussed, in order:

WGBH News coverage is a resource provided by member-supported public radio. We can’t do it without you.
Expand