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Cover of Alex Caldiero book

Poetry Month: Poetry is Wanted Here {format} {format} 4:23 Alex Caldiero

From his collection

Broadcast: Apr 6 2005 on NPR Day to DaySeries: Poetry Month Subjects: Literature, Spoken Word

Profile: Alex Caldiero's poem "Poetry is Wanted Here"

April 6, 2005 from Day to Day

ALEX CHADWICK, host: We'd like to conclude today's program, not with more on the pope or politics or anything in the news recently. Instead, we're going to spend a few minutes hearing from Alex Caldiero. Alex Caldiero came here on a boat from Sicily when he was eight years old, not speaking a word of English. He grew up in New York City. He now lives in Utah. He's a teacher, a painter, a dancer. He collects old folk instruments. Alex Caldiero is also a poet.

We are a few days into the month of April, and so now it seems appropriate to hear from Alex Caldiero, not because April is National Soft Pretzel Month--it is--or National Kite Month--it is that, too--but because April is National Poetry Month, and Alex Caldiero is, as we've said, a poet. He wrote this in the fall of 2001. It's called "Poetry is Wanted Here."

Mr. ALEX CALDIERO (Poet): (Reading) Letter to my friend Bob in New York: You don't sound so good. Please take care. Most of this is mental. That's why it's terrorism. It's meant to disconcert and make you revert to blind fear. Poetry is wanted here.

And to boot, our homegrown nuts are starting to take root. Yet in most parts, things are calm and generally subdued. But there have been hoaxes, and folks is getting anxious and ready to conclude that it's hopeless and drear. Poetry would be helpful here.

So I'm going to go poetize and help people realize that you cannot hide when worlds collide. No going inside, no taking a breather, either. It all comes in on you at once, and you gotta have at least an ounce of hope and joy to deploy into the atmosphere of fear to implode the load of grief that's drawing near. Poetry is desired here.

'Cause all peoples are just like you are and I are, close or far are, just people with nowhere to run. Let's stick a flower into every gun, like way back when, or was that a dream? Can't say now, feeling so low, seeing so bleak, thinking so drear. Poetry is wanted here.

Rhyming and timing, a rebirth of cheer. Songs are needed here. We are human after all. America, venerable yet vulnerable and human after all. Good to know, that's our true strength and the real meaning of this happenstance, that we can fall and scroll and rise and be surprised and not take for granted the morning sun so beautiful and dear. Poetry would be good here.

Forgive me for ranting, for panting, for chanting out of tune. That's the fool in me, seeking a tune in me, wanting to stay light and free from that which would oppress, depress, regress, obsess and, in general, make a mess of my soul. I want to be whole, in control, on a roll, without the slightest hint of fear. Poetry is needed here.

So my dear friend, hang in, hang on, hang tight. We gotta see this to the end. We gotta be concerned and discern the real enemy that we fight. For the veil between truth and lie has become so thin and sheer, poetry is wanted here. Love, your buddy.

CHADWICK: Alex Caldiero reading his poem, "Poetry is Wanted Here." It's the title of his latest collection to be published later this year. Thanks to our friends at for bringing us Alex's poem. And we'll have another offering for you next week as National Poetry Month continues.

DAY TO DAY is a production of NPR News and I'm Alex Chadwick.