Why your brain loves poetry with poet Elizabeth Alexander

Want a drug-free consciousness-shifting experience that only takes a minute and has good side-effects?  There’s good reason our brains love poetry, people have spoken it for generations, way before we wrote stuff down. Poetry is that thing that lifts your brain outside of everyday life and instantly transports your consciousness. I think of poems like little mental Altoids you can pop in your mind and let slowly unravel, stimulating and guiding your memories to reconfigure in heart-opening ways.

Today, our culture puts all its value on science. Those are the classes and jobs that pay. But it’s our poetry that for hundreds of years, has upset the establishment’s apple cart, that has brought us close together and created a sense of community and experience of being alive that nothing else can in the same way. It’s Poets that have challenged us to think differently. Recently, our National attention gets inspired by the poetry shared at revolutions in Washington whether it’s MLK’s “I have a dream,” during the Human Rights March of 1963, Maya Angelou’s, “On the Pulse of Morning,” who read at Bill Clinton's inauguration and followed Robert Frost as the second poet ever to read at a president’s inauguration or this week’s guest, Elizabeth Alexander, the only other poet to read following Bill’s Clinton's presidency when she read “Praise Song for the Day” at our country’s first black President, Barak Obama’s inauguration. 

In this conversation with Yale Professor and Pulitzer Prize nominated poet Elizabeth Alexander, we talk about the importance of Poetry as well as her recent profound and excruciating loss, which she writes about in “The Light of the World.”  


Music credit: Mavis Staples— You’re not alone

Art credit: Elliana Esquivel