New Television Workshop Collection
New Television Workshop Collection Program Materials Poetry Breaks



Poetry Breaks, 1988-1998 (1988-1994)

Extent:
7 videoreels : sd., col. ; 1 in.
65 videocassettes (Betacam SP) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
65 videocassettes (VHS) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
4 videocassettes (Digital Betacam) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
15 videocassettes : sd., col. ; 3/4 in.
1.25 linear feet (1 box)

Organization and Arrangement:
Organized by Program :
Poetry Breaks Compilation Tapes
Poetry Breaks Documentation
Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: Charles Simic
Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: D. Nurkse
Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: Galway Kinnell
Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: Lucille Clifton
Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: Martin Espada
Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries: Philip Levine
Poetry Breaks I, Allen Ginsberg
Poetry Breaks I, Galway Kinnell
Poetry Breaks I, Martin Espada
Poetry Breaks I, Robert Bly
Poetry Breaks I, Ruth Stone
Poetry Breaks I, Seamus Heaney
Poetry Breaks I, Sharon Olds
Poetry Breaks II, Cyrus Cassells
Poetry Breaks II, Li-Young Lee
Poetry Breaks II, Lucille Clifton
Poetry Breaks II, Stanley Kunitz
Poetry Breaks II, Thylias Moss
Poetry Breaks III, Charles Simic
Poetry Breaks III, D. Nurkse
Poetry Breaks III, Philip Levine
Poetry Breaks Sound and Graphic Elements

Provenance:
Video and print materials relating to "Poetry Breaks I" were archived by the New Television Workshop when the series was first broadcast in 1988. Additional print materials relating to "Poetry Breaks I" were donated to the WGBH Archives by producer Leita Hagemann Luchetti in 1999. Video and print materials concerning "Poetry Breaks II," "Poetry Breaks III," and "Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries" were donated and/or loaned to WGBH for reformatting by Luchetti.

Background:
"Poetry Breaks," conceived by Leita Hagemann Luchetti and coproduced by Luchetti and WGBH New Television Workshop, is an ongoing series of over 100 thirty-second to four-minute spots presenting internationally known poets reading their work on location. These have aired individually on WGBH and public television stations across the country. The Workshop collaborated with Luchetti until its closing in 1993, at which point the works became coproductions of Luchetti and the larger WGBH Foundation.

To date "Poetry Breaks" has been grouped into three distinct seasons or packages. "Poetry Breaks I" was produced from 1986-1988, and in October 1988 began airing on WGBH-TV between regularly scheduled programming and at the close of the broadcast day. Starting the following year, over 70 other public television stations in cities throughout the country also started airing the poetry spots. The national distribution was arranged through the Member Exchange Program of the American Programming Service, which provides "syndication" for public television.

Luchetti edited and assembled the poetry readings so that they would be user-friendly for individual television stations and yet retain their own integrity for other venues. Each "Poetry Break" is mastered with and without the copyright sign so that it can be used both individually and in combination with others. Single and double compilation reels were designed to give stations easy access to various length "fillers" which are often needed to "fill out" an hour of programming.

"Poetry Breaks II," produced from 1991-1994, began airing on WGBH-TV in 1994, and was also broadcast by dozens of other public television stations throughout the country starting in 1994. Between 1995 and 1997, three new poets were taped for Poetry Breaks III.

With funding from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, Luchetti developed and packaged "Poetry Breaks" specifically for use by schools. Ron Padgett, a poet and nationally acclaimed authority on poetry education, worked with Luchetti in developing print classroom materials as well as videotapes of individual poets reading poems and answering questions about their lives and work. These videos are approximately 20 minutes in length. They present Lucille Clifton, Galway Kinnell, and Martin Espada reading work particularly relevant to high-school students. The poets also answer questions about their lives and craft such as "How did you decide to be a poet?" and "Where do you get your ideas?" Twenty-minute tapes of other poets have since been compiled depending on time and budget. Some include questions and answers, others do not.

The print materials are written by Ron Padgett and emphasize the importance of experiencing the poem rather than simply analyzing it. To this end questions and exercises are suggested to teachers and students alike. The Boston Arts Council funded a pilot program for "Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries" at Boston's English High School.

Scope:
Includes mainly moving image materials -- master and source tapes and preservation masters and screening copies created from these. The original source tapes are on Betacam SP. A box of logs, correspondence, and other related documentation exists.

"Poetry Breaks I" features readings by Allen Ginsberg on the roof of his Manhattan apartment; Seamus Heaney at a Harvard University library; Ruth Stone at the historic Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Martin Espada in a New England house; Robert Bly in his Minnesota cabin; Sharon Olds at her Martha's Vineyard retreat; and Galway Kinnell at his Vermont farm.

"Poetry Breaks II" features Stanley Kunitz, Li-Young Lee, Thylias Moss, Cyrus Cassells, and Lucille Clifton.

"Poetry Breaks III" features Charles Simic, D. Nurkse, and Philip Levine to date.

"Poetry Breaks for Schools and Libraries" programs featuring Galway Kinnell, Martin Espada, and Lucille Clifton were designed primarily for high school use. Those featuring Charles Simic, D. Nurkse, and Philip Levine were designed primarily for general audiences and libraries.









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