Friday, June 5, 2020


Poet Elizabeth Alexander inspired by rich variety of experiences

Larger view
Poet Elizabeth Alexander. (Photo courtesy of the Academy of American Poets)

St. Paul, Minn. — Elizabeth Alexander is a poet and essayist who takes her inspiration from a wide range of influence -- the history of poetry, the richness of language, and what she calls the "rich infinity" of the African-American experience. Alexander teaches English and African American Studies at Yale University.

In her 2004 book of essays, "The Black Interior," Alexander explores a wide range of contemporary African American artistic life through literature, paintings, film and popular media, and sets it in the context of current culture. The essays address topics ranging from poet Langston Hughes, to Jet magazine, to actor Denzel Washington.

Alexander's fourth and newest collection of poetry is "American Sublime." Alexander told MPR's Tom Crann that one of the poems in her new book was inspired by the confluence of two tragedies -- the death of a close family member, and the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

To listen to their interview, choose the audio link in the right column.