Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live

'Poetry in America' looks at how poems touch American life, past and present

 March 28, 2024 at 4:54 PM PDT

S1: It's time for Midday Edition on KPBS. Today's arts and culture show is a conversation about the genius of poetry in all its forms. I'm Jade Hyndman. Here's to conversations that keep you informed , inspired , and make you think. The host of PBS Poetry in America , tells us about the upcoming season.

S2: What I try to do in this series is episode by episode to show you many , many different things that that a poem can be.

S1: Then La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls festival shatters expectations about traditional theater. Plus , a look at the KPBS Springs Arts Guide. That's ahead on Midday Edition. Welcome in San Diego , it's Jade Hyndman. Poetry in America gives us perspective on our shared history. We'll talk about how , plus a preview of this year's Wow Fest and your spring arts calendar. This is KPBS Midday Edition. Connecting our communities through conversation. National Poetry Month is just around the corner , and it's an opportunity to think about the role that poetry is played in our country and how it speaks to our current moment. Poetry in America , which airs on PBS , explores just that. Here's a trailer from the upcoming season.

S3: From the point at which I could pick up a pen. Writing was , to me , freedom.

S4: The only emperor is the emperor of ice cream. It's magical. It's like. It's incredible.

S5: When I first read the poem , it was the music of the poem that get reached me.

S6: Every time I read this poem. I like it better because I find little twists and turns in it.

S1: Elisa nu is the host of Poetry in America. She's here now to talk more about the show and what it reveals about America today. Elisa , welcome to Midday Edition.

S2: Thank you so much. Delighted to be here.

S1: So glad to have you here. So this season , you're looking at poems that reveal a broader vision of America. Tell us more about that.

S2: And so we kick off the season , the first voice we hear is that of maybe our most famous poet today , Amanda Gorman. And we we hear Amanda identifying with Phillis Wheatley , a child prodigy , uh , who began then in her teenage years to articulate what freedom meant and eventually wrote a poem , actually , still still as a very young woman that she addressed to General George Washington , reminding him what freedom might mean.

S7: Muse Beau Propitious , while my pen relates how poor her arm is through a thousand gates.

S8: She calls freedom her her anxious breasts alarms women. Goddesses are important for her.

S9: She's just very in tune with the divine feminine and strength and power.


S2: And that is , um , such a fun. I'm , I'm incredibly fortunate to be able to be making a television series about poetry. And one of the great joys , season by season , is putting together a mosaic. And also just a sort of surprise goodie bag of different poetic experiences. You know , everybody thinks that a poem is , you know , people have their own ideas of what a poem is. Some people think a poem is something you hear spoken by a person full of passion on a stage. Another person will say , A poem is something you read in school that's incredibly boring and obscure. Um , a third will say A poem is what we read at a funeral. What I try to do in this series is episode by episode to show you many , many different things that that a poem can be. And so we always have a poem that takes us into the natural world , into the environment , and often into the world of , of science. In in this season. That poem is. Well , in this season there are two one. We're doing a poem on mushrooms and fungi , uh , that really benefits from the contributions of a bunch of scientists , of experts on mushrooms , as well as chefs and everyone and , uh , and others. And that episode includes just breathtaking imagery of the fungal kingdom. And so one thing we do as we're thinking about what goes into a season is we think not only about the language , but about the visual media , about the musical ties when there are them. So I think what I've been talking about is the attempt to take you to all the places in the imagination that a poem might.

S1: It's just it's amazing how poetry really speaks to the moment and how it can draw a through line between so many different things. Yeah , ideas , beliefs.

S2: I'm going to give you another example. We're doing one episode called July in Washington by Robert Lowell. July in Washington is a poem about Congress. It's a poem about government. It's a poem about American ideals as they are embodied in the city of Washington and American ideals as they disappoint us in the city of Washington. The poem was written in during the Kennedy administration. However , this poem , though it speaks precisely to the world we still live in , where the view across the Potomac into the , you know , into the verdant green of Virginia and Shenandoah gives us hope. And you know where that hope lives on. And yet the chicanery and corruption that , um , I guess , afflicts all political societies is represented in that poem. That's one of the poems that is in the season that's that speaks so much to our moment. And , and also connects us to so many more. You know , we are in an election year , and it's exciting to think about the response that viewers will have. And I hope the thought and the pondering that these that this episode and other episodes in the season will will inspire these poems give you a lot mentally to chew on. And a goal I have is that they lead you into the contradictions and the tensions that are part of American life. There are. We try never to choose a poem that's completely cynical or or to choose a poem that's completely sentimental , but instead look for , you know , look for , for works with depth and , and of course , there are , there are so many of them that I could keep making this series. For a long time , for as long as the American public would like.

S1: Well , in past seasons , you know , you've you've got quite a lineup of readers here. And I'll just list some of the names here. Amanda Gorman , as you mentioned , Murray Bartlett. Jimmie Dale Gilmore , former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer. Who else can we expect to hear from.

S2: In this season ? You can expect to hear from , uh , Henry Louis Gates , from David Axelrod. You'll see the apostle of happiness , Laurie Santos , who has a podcast on happiness , the great actor John Turturro , who's in our episode with Justice Stephen Breyer. Uh , you'll see Mark Morris , the fantastic choreographer in our in our episode on Frank O'Hara , along with the amazing musical musical duo Rachel and Vili. Because poetry , so much poetry is tied to other art forms. To theater , to dance , to jazz , to blues , to musical theater. As we craft each episode , we're always thinking , what is it ? Did this poem come out of a musical , particular musical tradition , or its rhythms , in some way consonant with a musical tradition ? And how do we bring that into the episode ? And so our final episode of the season on the beloved , hilarious poet Frank O'Hara , has live music played from the American Songbook. O'Hara wrote in the late 50s and early 60s , and you have that sort of cool jazz vibe.

S10: How funny you are today. New York , like Ginger Rogers and Swing Time and Saint Bridget's steeple leaning a little to the left. Here.

S4: Here. I have just jumped out of a bed full of days. I got tired of d days and blew you there. Still accepts me. Foolish and free.

S11: All I want is a room up there and you in it. And even the traffic hall , so thick is a way for people to rub up against each other. And when their surgical appliances lock , they stay together for the rest of the day. What a day.

S1: And that's nice. I mean , in every guest has some connection to the poetry.

S2: Well , sometimes guests , you know , are surprised that I've asked them. The what people more often ask me is do guests choose their poems ? And with very few exceptions , the answer is no. Uh , the one exception was that Bill Clinton in season one. Yes , did pick , uh , Langston Hughes Harlem. His office was in Harlem. And , uh , that episode included , uh , Herbie Hancock and the great poet Sonia Sanchez. Um , as well , in general , what I once I've picked a set of poems that , you know , are going to take your imagination to many places. Then I sit around with my staff and my family , and we just sort of think , who would be great ? Who would be ? Not because they know anything about poetry. Maybe they , you know , don't , but because there's something about this subject where the poem is going to startle this expert even into new , new insights. And so one of my favorite examples of that is from season one. We , uh , we did an episode on a basketball poem , a beautiful poem about basketball and about teamwork and friendship. And we asked Shaquille O'Neal be in the episode. And he I mean , he knows everything about basketball. He really does. But the poem kind of stopped him dead in the middle as he began , assisted by his understanding of basketball , to have new insight on how on poetic form he understood. He understands the the structure and the form of basketball , and he began to see the way this poet had constructed the poem by leveraging this other knowledge. So the goal in , in recruiting guests is that we want them to be from all walks of life. Um , we don't want ponderous , didactic talking heads telling you what to think wonderful about this poem. Instead , I and I , I'm a ponderous , didactic talking head sometimes about poetry , but I , I want to learn from these guests all the things that a particular word might mean. And and it's , it's beautiful. And we do convey in the series when , say , Bill Clinton and a fourth grader say exactly the same thing in exactly the same words , that that's astounding. But it's really wonderful to when two interpreters either disagree or see , see quite different things. And the experience of of of seeing that develop is incredibly moving to me. And we try to share that. Yeah.

S1: I mean , to see that in real time. It goes a long way into what your goal is here. Part of this , you're part of this greater effort , really , to bring a whole new generation into poetry.

S2: I mean , this is a generation that has embraced poetry , as my generation certainly hadn't. And some of it comes from hip hop , uh , where hip hop artists , the , the greatest of them , are actually using so many of the classic techniques they brought back. Rhyme. Rhyme was dead before hip hop in poetry. They brought back sort of the delight and playfulness of rhyme. They brought back allusion where you refer to something some people are going to get and other people aren't going to get. So many of the what schoolroom teachers will call literary devices. And , you know , you call it a literary literary device. And who wants to learn it ? I don't , I certainly don't , but many of those same techniques are already part of musical culture that kids come of age absorbing. And this is a generation that is politically much more aware than kind of mobilized and a generation that thinks of , you know , when they say , we need to use our voices , that that use of voice which comes from poetry means for them politically engaged. And so this generation is a generation that believes in poetry , and it does poetry after school and in. Competitive settings. And so it's not actually the younger generation that we are bringing along. It's I feel like the the real burden that I've shouldered is bringing a that generation terrified of poetry back to it , instilling some confidence and some and a kind of loose playfulness. Because poetry is it shouldn't always be a test or or nasty medicine. I don't think of it as a , you know , there's so many great things people have said. Um , William Carlos Williams says that , you know , a poem is a machine made out of words and that it , you know , it just will do something. It will it will act on you. I really great poems , no matter how well you know them , they , they keep teaching you.

S1: That is so very true. They can keep teaching us and help us build empathy and so many things for sure. I've been speaking with Elisa , new host of Poetry in America on PBS. To watch these in four , check your local PBS listings starting April 1st. You can also visit Poetry in America. Org for free streams of new episodes every Monday. Elisa , thank you so much.

S2: Thank you. It's delightful talking to you.

S1: It's so great to talk to you. Coming up , La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls festival shatters expectations about traditional theater here from one dance company playing a sheep. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. Welcome back to Midday Edition. I'm Jade Hindman once again. La Jolla Playhouse prepares to wow audiences with its Without Walls festival. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando highlights a pair of companies coming from out of town. She spoke with David Dizon of Canada and Jeff and Andy Croker of the LA based Mister and Mischief.

S12: David , you have a show at La Jolla Playhouse's Without Walls festival this year. And before we talk about your show , give us a little background on your company. Corpus.

S4: Corpus was founded.

S13: 27 years ago. I co-founded it with a dancer choreographer called Sylvie Bouchard. We're based in Toronto , Canada. It's a dance theatre company. My background is in theater. Her background was in dance , and so we started to collaborate and see how we could make theatrical dance performances was sort of a starting point , basically using whatever the other could bring to the table and yes , that was 27 years ago.

S12: I did check out your website , and one of the things I saw was a comment that said body language is the most eloquent of all.

S13: I'm not the first one to say it , so it's much more interesting , I think , what you can convey , I think you can get closer to some universal truths with the body than you can with language. And so that's been my main focus and area of interest from the get go.

S12: This is going to be your third time at the Without Walls Festival.

S13: Most of my work is site specific outdoor work , so the Wow festival programs , a lot of outdoor shows , and so I think we're a good fit. And again , this sort of multidisciplinary approach of corpus , I think is of interest to the festival. So a lot of our pieces are difficult to put into one category. I mean , I don't want to speak for the festival , of course , but I think , I think it's it makes for a good fit between our company and the festival.

S14: And this year.

S12: You are putting on a show called Les Mouton , which has some sheep in it. So explain a little bit about what people can expect from this , because it's not conventional theater , it's not conventional dance , it's not conventional in any real sort of way. Yeah.

S13: Yeah. So it's um , it's an installation with a sheep pen. So you have to visualize , you know , a standard , uh , wooden sheep pen on grass. Um , in the sheep pen are , um , a few troughs , um , some bales of hay , and a shepherd arrives. The audience sits all around the pen , and a shepherd arrives with his flock of sheep , and we go on to do half an hour in the life of sheep , uh , in the most realistic way. Of course , the twist here is that they're not real sheep. They are portrayed by actors. So we spent a lot of time observing real sheep and studying their behavior. The way they move , the way they stare , the way they breathe. And we recreate sheep behavior. But it's not. You know , I always say the show is half a half of the show is what we do , and the other half is what the audience does. The audience becomes really part of the show without realizing it , because the show is wordless , so there's no commentary , there's no setup or hints of what the show is about given to the audience. And so the audience eventually starts behaving the way they would behave at a farm or at a petting zoo. And so you get people starting to start to pet the sheep or feed them or uh , uh , start to try to communicate with them using sheep language. And it becomes a very intriguing , funny happening. It started as an experiment 21 years ago , and we never would have thought that 21 years later , we would still be performing the show all over the world. But here we are.

S12: And you said it started as an experiment.

S13: And we thought it would be an interesting take on relationships in general , but we didn't go very far in that direction. We kind of hit a wall and then we thought , well , what are we going to do with this sheep shepherd idea ? And so we thought , well , maybe we should go and we should go see observe real sheep. Maybe that will inform us. They will inform us into , you know , where to go next , so to speak. So that's what we did. And then we started to really become interested in this idea of , um , because when you when you observe sheep , nothing much happens. It became a challenge for us. Can we make an interesting show out of nothing ? Really. And what is there in this idea that that can become a full on performance ? And so that's what we did. We went full on with this idea , started to observe sheep for long periods of time , coming back to the studio , sharing notes. Eventually , we brought in a few other performers to come and join that process. And then the idea of this installation with the sheep pen came and the rest followed.

S12: And there's a video of part of one of your performances.

S13: Everybody in their own way participates. That's kind of the interesting thing about the show is that we get all kinds of reactions. There's people who are desperately looking for the political statement behind the show , other people who are laugh their heads off from beginning to end , who see the comedy of it , the absurdity of it. Children are often , especially the younger ones , are completely dumbfounded and fascinated by what they're watching. And we hear comments , uh , often from kids who say , oh , uh , hey , mommy , are these real people ? You know ? Not are they real sheep ? But are they real people ? So you can see that little brains trying to slowly compute , but they're what they're watching and have lots of questions. And then also because we don't offer the audience any indication or explanation about why it is that we're doing this , it invites sometimes strange behaviors from the audience. So and sometimes violent , uh , behavior we get. And not just kids , sometimes adults who start pulling on , um , the sheep's ears and or kicking the sheep or throwing stones at them , you know , uh , it becomes an interesting social experiment in some way , uh , often. And we , of course , let it all happen because we try not to spoon feed the audience in any way and let the installation speak for itself.

S12: So this doesn't appear to be something that's , like , heavily scripted. But what is it when you go into this , do you have kind of an idea of a story you want to play out , or specific things that you want to do , and then you adjust based on , you know , what people are doing or how do you kind of go into this. Yeah.

S13: Yeah. So it's basically a structured improv. The piece is actually a lot more choreographed than people think. So there is an order of events between the arrival of the flock. You know , the shepherd shears one of the sheep later. He's he's going to milk , uh , one of the. Sheep and offer a taste of warm , organic fresh milk to the audience. All of these events happen chronologically. We know what the order is within that the performer is really immersed in his or her sheep , and it's a bit like jazz , you know , there's a he or she knows the scales , and then within the scale , they improvise. They're just in their sheep being and go through the show like.

S12: So that was David Danson , artistic director of corpus , which will be presenting Liz Mouton at this year's Wow or Without Walls festival. Jeff and Andy , you are part of the company known as Mister and Mischief , and you are going to be presenting a show at Wow called the Apple Avenue Detective Agency. So tell us a little bit about what this is.

S15: The Apple Avenue Detective Agency is a playable memoir about my own childhood detective agency that I had with my friends. And when we say it's a playable memoir , we are going to tell this inspired by a true story , um , of three real 11 year old girls that , uh , worked on real mysteries in their neighborhood. So audiences will join the club and go out into the neighborhood and explore and uncover mysteries in the neighborhood with three lead detectives who just happened to be 11 year old girls.

S16: That's a great way to frame it. That's that's exactly what is happening. And it is all the sort of rough edges that comes with sort of a real life experience , a memoir. I think the only other thing that we sort of talk about is we there will be a real investigations , though we may not solve anything because real life is is never quite that , um , that tidy.

S15: I'll straight up say it like you're not going to solve a mystery , because that's not how the real story went. And I treat this story with reverence because it's a huge part of my life and who I am. That's at the core of what the story is , is that being a kid detective isn't about solving mysteries. It's a way to look at the world , and it's a way to frame a world I see. I have never gotten through the pitch without crying. This is why I wanted you to start. It's a way to frame a world that stops making sense as you get older , so you'll never solve it. So sorry. No , but you will explore and uncover and question and investigate with your trusted pals. And that's what's important about being a kid detective. And that , for me , was what was important about that time in my life. And I want people to have the opportunity to do that.

S12: And this is not your first experimental piece of theater. And one of the things I saw on your website was it says it will take strangers and turn them into pals.

S16: It's really fun to go out with your friends and you've got your your gang , your team , your crew , and to go out and have fun. There's a different kind of adrenaline or , you know , excitement when you get to collaborate and participate with complete strangers and then discover new bonds like that. And maybe those bonds will last longer than just that moment or not. It's okay if they just last in this , in this moment. And a lot of the work that we do encourages playing together with people you've just met. It may not be a requirement , but it is encouraged and we are going to create a welcoming space for that to happen.

S12: Traditional theater is really about performers and an audience kind of separated by an invisible wall. You're not really interacting.

S16: And he talks about it very much in the world of water.

S15: So sometimes we talk about experience design , like you're building a fountain , right ? So you can build the most beautiful fountain in the whole wide world. But if you don't put water into it , it's just a sculpture. And so what we're designing is a fountain , not a sculpture. So we design , design , design. And but until we have guests going through the experience , we don't really know how it's going to go. And you can make a good guess to be like , oh , the water is going to go this direction , but the weather might be different , the wind might blow , and each one will be slightly different. Some of our fountains are more chaotic than others. The piece is not the piece without fresh eyes , fresh hearts and fresh minds each time. It makes rehearsing very challenging because you're always rehearsing with missing cast members , because the last cast members are the audience.

S12: All right , well , I want to thank you both very much for talking about Mr. and Mischief in your Wow production.

S16: Well thank you. Thanks for having us.

S17: Thank you.

S1: That was Beth Accomando speaking with Wow artist Jeff and Andy Croker of Mr. and Mischief , as well as David Dizon of Corpus out of Canada. La Jolla Playhouse is Without Walls Festival is free to the public April 4th through the seventh. The. This year , wow is presented in partnership with UC San Diego and takes place at locations all around campus.

S18: Still ahead.

S1: A look at the events happening in your Spring Arts Guide.

S19: There's dance , music , theater , visual art , books , and even kid friendly arts that are happening this spring.

S1: KPBS Midday Edition is back after the break. Welcome back to KPBS midday Edition. I'm your host , Jade Hindman. Spring it has sprung. And here at KPBS , we've made a guide of our best arts and culture picks to look forward to. Joining me , as always , is KPBS arts producer and editor Julia Dixon Evans. Julia , it's good to have you here.

S19: Thanks , Jade. Happy spring , happy spring.

S1: Oh , I just love it. The flowers , the sun , the green grass.

S19: The art. Yes.

S1: Yes. And the. Oh , that's right , the art.

S19: This season , there's dance , music , theater , visual art , books , and even kid friendly arts that are happening this spring. And we kind of will we'll spotlight certain artists and and creative people that are making the art , and then also have roundups of , like the top five art exhibits that are happening this season. Wow.

S1: Wow.

S19: Okay. I don't know if maybe there was a broadcast one and 1985 , but I have no proof of it. And , you know , there is so much going on and we are a public media station. We don't have a paywall. So sharing this stuff with the community , it feels like a resource as there's so much art stuff out there this spring. Yeah. Way to guide us through it.

S1: So at the heart of this guide are the artist profiles. How are you profiling them ? And can you tell me a little bit about the folks we're spotlighting here ? Sure.

S19: So we have there's a story about a husband and wife , choreographer and ballet dancer. Um , they're working with City Ballet on a famous piece of music , Carl Orff's Carmina Burana , that's going to be in Escondido in early May. And we hear a little bit from them about what it's like working on this project together. We also meet a local author who has a book about an Indian American family of immigrants , and the way that that violence has disrupted their American dream. That's Shilpa Soumya Gowda , and she has events this weekend. One is free at the Carlsbad Library Saturday afternoon. There is also visual artist Tara Arun and we meet her and get to know the story behind her current exhibition at the Athenaeum Arts Center. It is a maze that also explores the American Dream , and we'll meet a theater director who's bringing a Puerto Rican trans and drag story to the stage , which is something that she never let herself dream was possible before. And that's happening in May at Moxie Theater. And also there's a profile of a troupe of teenage artists. They're learning how to tell their story and share , explore their emotions through dance and those performances. That's with transcendence. Those are next weekend , April 5th and sixth. And then for our music story , the interesting characters actually pipe organ and 1920s Wonder Morton pipe organ and and kind of the long struggle to keep the Babbo theater in good shape.

S20: Oh , wow.

S1: Okay , so let's talk about some of these top five event roundups.

S19: It's called Threaded Journeys. She is a local textile and installation artist , and she's drawing on her experiences as a second generation Iranian refugee. And one of my favorite works in the show is this giant textile that stitched together used tea bags. So it's kind of like this beautiful color. And and it really does look like like a fabric. Another is called The Artist Speaks Cara Romero. Cara Ramirez , an indigenous photographer , and she'll be here in town to give the keynote lecture at the Medium Festival of Photography. That's on April 26th and at the same time opening a solo exhibit at Museum of Photographic Arts. Um , she has this really theatrical way of staging a photograph there. So colorful. And I love the way she merges , kind of like traditional elements with modernists. The best way to put it. Yeah.

S20: Yeah.

S1: I mean , the start of the spring season is also a big time for local theater , too.

S19: This is at Cygnet Theater , and it's kind of like a slice of Tolstoy's War and Peace that very quickly becomes its own thing , its own story. It is a. Musical with electronic dance music , Russian folk music , and also a little indie rock in the mix , and that opens April 10th. The other one is called TLDR Thelma Louise Dyke Remix , and you know , this is another one of those retellings bouncing off into its own story things. As you know , Thelma and Louise , they're this iconic , quintessential tragic road trip heroes , female friendship characters , and what they're doing in this play is spinning it into a queer love story. And the play asks , I mean , literally , one of the song titles is why do strong female characters always gotta Die ? And that opens in early May.

S20: Why at. Diversionary.

S19: Diversionary.

S20: The questions. All right.


S19: There's ballet , there's contemporary dance , there's folklorico. And , um , one of the things that I have my eye on is San Diego Ballet's production of Giselle. Um , this is an early May. It's San Diego Ballet. They're restaging a 19th century. It's kind of a revenge classic. And there's a young girl , she gets betrayed and then gets kind of caught up with the spirits of women scorned by lovers. And they're seeking revenge on all men. And San Diego Ballet's artistic director Javier Velasco is retelling this in a in a regional Spanish colonial setting. And then April 6th in Escondido. We have a very special production. This is from Vista's Tierra Caliente Academy of Arts , and it is an exploration of Mexico's history. But through a female lens , drawing on all sorts of inspiration Afro Mexican , Ballet Folklorico and so much more. And there's incredible singers and really incredible sets and costumes for this one.

S1: Sounds exciting. And of course , there's tons of classical and jazz music on there too , right ? Right.


S19: Couple highlights. The drum tower is going to be in Poway on April 6th. This is a traditional Japanese drumming. There's also music and dance and martial arts and acrobatics and yeah , also lots of great costumes and really theatrical performance. And this is also the Drum Tao Troupe's 30th anniversary. And another one happening later in April is the Jazz Piano Mini Fest. This is an entire week of jazz piano performances. There's also workshops and discussions. This is all through the La Jolla music society. A couple of the events are free , like there's a free lunchtime performance with local Ed Kornhauser , and I am still listening to his album from 2020. It's called The Short Years. He is an incredible performer. We also have a free panel discussion that kick things off. That's with Charles McPherson and more. And they're bringing in Diarra Gonzalez , who's going to teach a master class and do a performance also when he's here. And Herbie Hancock will perform at Balboa Theater. This is all April 17th through 21st.

S1: That's going to be excellent. Well , don't worry , you know , because we didn't forget about the kids. The arts guide has a really cool section for them to write.

S19: You know , as we were going through this , there were so many things that were just they just seemed perfect for kids and family friendly offerings. And I know that's something that we parents are always looking for. What is something that I can take my kids to that is , you know , geared towards them or something that I can expose them to art in a way that's low stakes.

S20: Yeah , yeah.

S19: So yeah , one of the things that's actually tomorrow is Sonia de la Santos musica , and she is a bilingual children's musician. And this this is a great event because it's an evening concert feel , but it's in a cool , kid friendly place like new Children's Museum. They're going to have a little art making activity where kids can make their own maracas. That's beforehand. And then there's even a little singing workshop for the kids. So it's going to feel really hands on and participatory. And you'll also be done in time for bedtime. And then yes , it is great. And another is the Without Walls , the Wow Festival that's next weekend starts April 4th through April 7th at UC San Diego , and Wow Festival has showed up a couple times in the Spring Arts Guide because it is really diverse , but I especially love what it offers for kids. Just a lot of those easy access , exposure to really fascinating art. And a lot of the stuff at Wow Festival is it's drop in or drop out. So if your kids had enough , you can kind of tap out or move on to something else. And , and a lot of things are just like right up Kids Alley , there is a giant topsy turvy house. There's puppetry and really captivating characters. So this is all stuff that's , you know , it's interesting and engaging and mostly outdoors. Yeah. And La Jolla Playhouse has made a special category that you can search for , for things that are family friendly.

S1: So we're already a few months into the year. Uh , so it is a good time for a check in.

S19: You know , people are we I feel like we have come back to this point of constant events and lots of things on the table and a lot of collaborations. I'm still seeing a lot of collaborations between , um , theater companies , between venues and then across genres. So we're seeing dance , collaborating with music or with visual art in ways that are really interesting. And I think it's also really essential for the artists to do that and for the companies to do that for inspiration reasons as well as , you know , sharing audiences and fiscal , you know , things are a little bit cheaper when you can work together.

S20: I mean.

S1: Our venues still having trouble getting their audiences. Back.

S20: Back.

S19: They are , you know , there's the seats still aren't always filled , and audiences are not coming back the same way that they were before the pandemic. And this is , you know , habits have changed. But but also our everything costs a lot more. Um , it costs a lot more to go to theater. Every other expense we have costs more. So there's less room in people's budgets for art. So I think that is something that the arts are constantly grappling with is how to make things accessible and affordable , but also how to still stay afloat. Wow.

S1: Wow. And you've been working really hard on this guide for quite a while.

S19: Exhausting. I'm ready to close some tabs on my computer , but I. I also just feel really , um , renewed in a way and inspired. Like , there really is so much great art being made in San Diego by San Diegans. And we're also attracting a lot of great artists who want to come here and want to share their art. So yeah , it's great to see this go out into the world , and I hope that people let us know what they what they see and do what how the Spring Arts gate inspires them. Yeah.


S19: Org slash spring arts guide. Excellent.

S20: Excellent.

S1: That's Julia Dixon Evans , KPBS arts and culture editor. Again , you can find that arts guide at KPBS. Org. Thank you so much , Julia.

S19: Thank you Jade.

S1: That's our show for today. You can always download our podcast wherever you listen. Don't forget to watch Evening Edition tonight at five for in-depth coverage on San Diego issues. The roundtable is here tomorrow at noon. But before we go , I'd like to thank our Midday Edition team producers Giuliana Domingo , Andrew Bracken , Brooke Ruth and Ashley Rush , art segment contributors Julia Dixon Evans and Beth Accomando , technical producers Brandon Tufa and Ben Ridloff. The Midday Edition theme music you hear is from San Diego's own The Surefire Soul Ensemble. I'm your host , Jade Hindman. I'll see you back here next week. Have a great weekend on purpose , everyone.

Ways To Subscribe
The title page of the book "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral" by Phillis Wheatley. She is the first African-American author to have a published volume of poetry.
Poetry in America
Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of African American History and Culture.
The title page of the book "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral" by Phillis Wheatley, the first African-American author to have a published volume of poetry. She is featured in the first episode of PBS' "Poetry in America."

April is National Poetry Month. The PBS show "Poetry in America" will kick off the month with a new season that takes audiences from pre-colonial Boston to present-day Central Park. Host Elisa New sat down with Midday Edition to talk about how poetry continues to reflect the current moment.

Also, La Jolla Playhouse prepares to wow audiences with its Without Walls Festival, a four-day showcase of immersive, interactive, and boundary-pushing experiences from local, national and international artists. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando highlights a pair of companies coming from out of town.

And Julia Dixon Evans shares all of KPBS' top arts and culture picks for the season in this year's spring arts guide.

Spring Arts Guide 2024
This spring, discover our picks for the best art and culture in San Diego, including visual art, theater, dance, music and literature — and even some picks for kids. Read on for roundups of events, but also a chance to get to know some of the creative people sharing their art with San Diego.


  • Elisa New, host of "Poetry in America"
  • David Danzon, artistic director of Corpus Dance Projects
  • Jeff Crocker, Mister and Mischief
  • Andy Crocker, Mister and Mischief
  • Julia Dixon Evans, KPBS/arts producer and editor