poetry | KALW


A Revolutionary Poet Fans The Bay's Literary Fires

Jan 20, 2021

Author and educator Tongo Eisen-Martin was just named San Francisco's eight poet laureate. His work as prison activist to revolutionary poet has taken him from San Francisco to South Africa, with stops at Columbia University and Riker's Island. In this interview, Eisen-Martin shares stories behind his art, his upbringing, and his human-rights advocacy work.

Photo capture by Sandip Roy

Never underestimate the power of a poem.  

San Francisco Public Library

What’s it like to be San Francisco Poet Laureate? Kim Shuck gives us insight on her experience. She also talks about her writing, beading artistry and being directly impacted by the epidemic of missing and murdered Native American women.


Oakland Poet Tureeda Mikell has many stories to tell. Her first book "Synchronicity: The Oracle of Sun Medicine" is a collection of poetry that covers spirituality and Black culture, while also challenging organized religion and institutionalized racism.

There's still time for deep and thoughtful reading this summer -- and our 500th episode.

Philosophy Talk: Poetry as a Way of Knowing

Apr 19, 2020

April is National Poetry Month, so a philosopher might ask: Can we come to know things poetically that we couldn't get at through other forms of thinking, writing, and talking?

Poets Danez Smith, Safia Elhillo and Sam Sax share work about the saving grace of friendship and the search for joy and intimacy in a world where both can seem scarce.

Karen Kuehn / Blue Flower Arts

U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo reads and performs her poetry, which she describes as “carriers of dreams, knowledge and wisdom,” telling an American story of tradition and loss, reckoning and myth-making.

Poet Saeed Jones tells his coming-of-age story as a larger examination of race and queerness, and power and vulnerability. His new memoir is How We Fight for Our Lives.

Poets Adrienne Rich and Alicia Ostriker reflect on themes of Jewish identity, social justice, and radical feminism.

Jeremy Dalmas

In a quiet spot, just west of the bustle of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park, sits a garden dedicated to English literature’s crowned prince: William Shakespeare. Once you make it past the entrance gate and down the worn brick path, you are transported into an English garden filled with manicured flower beds, trimmed lawns, and people escaping the noise of the city.

Sandip Roy

An ode to the local trains in Kolkata, moving and harboring life daily.  

Binah: Kay Ryan

Aug 29, 2019
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (cropped)

Former US Poet Laureate from 2008 to 2010 Kay Ryan colors her writing with sly humor and dramatic imagination, while making poetry accessible to a broad audience.

Binah: Robert Pinsky

Aug 1, 2019
Eric Antoniou

Poet, essayist, literary critic, translator, and former US Poet Laureate from 1997 to 2000 Robert Pinsky speaks on death, mourning, and life after loss.

Binah: Philip Levine

Jul 4, 2019
Brian Kaufman/Detroit Free Press

Former US Poet Laureate from 2011 to 2012 Philip Levine depicts the reality of blue collar work and workers in order “to find a voice for the voiceless,” informed by his work experience in the automotive manufacturing plants during the 1950s.

Poet and college professor Daniel B. Summerhill grew up in Oakland and first picked took an interest in creative writing when he was in high school. Since then, Daniel has performed spoken word all over the world and he’s helping the next generation of Bay Area wordsmiths find their voices.

Courtesy of James Cagney

Poet James Cagney was 19 when he found out he was adopted. A few years later, both of his parents passed away, and Cagney was left homeless. He reflects on this heavy time in his collection "Black Steel Magnolias in the Hour of Chaos Theory.

Radio Poets 2019 - Christina Fong, "The Sun And I"

Apr 12, 2019
flickr user Stanley Zimny

                                                                                             The Sun and I

                                                 By Christina Fong, Redding Elementary School

Radio Poets 2019 - Angelo Tuchez, "In The Forest"

Apr 10, 2019



Mi pelota se alegran cuando hecho gol.

La pelota grita, “yo creo que puedo volaaaaaaaar!”

Le pelota llora cuando se desinfla.


Anissa Malady

Lawrence Ferlinghetti will be 100 years old this Sunday.

The poet and painter was the contemporary of authors Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. In 1953, he opened City Lights bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach — the first all-paperback bookseller in the country. 

Stacey Lewis

Lawrence Ferlinghetti will always be associated with San Francisco, but he’s originally from the East Coast. He was born in Yonkers, on March 24th, 1919, several months, actually, after his father died. 

Uncuffed poetry: Spoon Jackson

Mar 19, 2019

“At Night I Fly” by Spoon Jackson

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

United States Poet Laureate and Fairfield local Tracy K. Smith has a new literary project, and this time it's on the airwaves. It’s called "The Slowdown". Every weekday, Smith reads a poem and reflects on the author’s words. 

Bay Area Beats: Karl Digerness & Minna Choi

Nov 13, 2018
Courtesy of Karl Digerness

Songwriting can be a challenge. So when San Francisco musician Karl Digerness found himself battling writer’s block he started reading the texts from plays written by William Shakespeare for some lyrical inspiration.

Spoon Jackson keeps writing poetry after 41 years in prison

Oct 3, 2018
Steve Drown and JulianGlenn Padgett

From the series Uncuffed:

Poet Spoon Jackson has won awards from PEN America, provided lyrics for Ani DiFranco, and collaborated with Swedish composer Stefan Säfsten — all while serving time. Now, Spoon is a producer for Uncuffed, KALW’s new series created by men at Solano State Prison.

Steve Drown and JulianGlenn Padgett

From the series Uncuffed:

Damon Cooke says that anger used to make him feel powerful. It would also get him into trouble. After getting locked up, Damon started to think about his relationship with rage as a kind of love affair — one that he had the power to end.

Courtesy of Josiah Luís Alderete

Josiah Luís Alderete will tell you he is “a full-blooded Pocho Indio who refries his beans and poesia in Spanglish.”

Radio Poets 2018: Angelo Castro, "When I'm King"

Apr 24, 2018

When I'm King

By Angelo Castro, E.R. Taylor Elementary School

When I'm king, I would want a queen, by my side when I'm having a hard time...