Originally aired in 1996 as a five part series on PBS, “The United States of Poetry” is an excellent presentation of twentieth century poetry. This two-part series includes a wide variety of poets, such as Czeslaw Milosz, Rita Dove, and Allen Ginsberg, alongside actors and musicians such as Johnny Depp (reading Jack Kerouac) and Lou Reed. Former President Jimmy Carter also makes an appearance, reading his own work. The series has been praised for its inventive and artistic camera work and its refusal to be boring: “USOP tosses aside the textbook approach to poetry and drags it, kicking and screaming... into this wired world... it’s poetry as you’ve never experienced it” (TV Guide).
The brainchild of Bob Holman, “The United States of Poetry” has been published as an anthology and the soundtrack is available from Mouth Almighty, the first poetry record label. This series is an excellent teaching tool, as well as fun and informative viewing for poetry lovers of all ages.