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

By Maryann Yin Comment

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!