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Marilyn Nelson: ‘Many performance poets seem to believe that yelling a poem makes it comprehensible’

marilyn nelsonHappy National Poetry Month! All throughout April, we will interview poets about working in this digital age. Recently, we spoke with award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson.

Throughout her career, Nelson has written several volumes of poetry. Earlier this year, Penguin Books for Young Readers published her memoir How I Discovered Poetry. Check out the highlights from our interview below…

Q: How did you publish your first book?
A: One of my graduate school professors, to whom I started sending poems when I started writing again after a 10-year hiatus, suggested I prepare a book manuscript which he could send to publishers for me. He sent it first to LSU Press, which has been my primary publisher ever since.

Q: Has the internet changed the way you interact with readers?
A: I receive and respond to email!

Q: Any tips for reading poetry out loud?
A: Many performance poets seem to believe that yelling a poem makes it comprehensible. They are wrong.

Q: What advice can you share for aspiring poets?
A: Read as much as you can!

Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m working on a young adult novel in verse. Fingers crossed!

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