Politics and Poetry: A Point/Counterpoint Series Hosted by Ilan Stavans

In a time of abysmal polarization in America and the world, when even finding a common language seems elusive at times, the need to engage in discussions across the ideological divide is crucial. The words we use are weapons and expressions of deeply rooted discontent. This virtual lecture series examines our current crossroads, both nationally and globally, from the perspectives of opinion writers, poets, activists, linguists and historians.

Learn more about the Politics and Poetry series.


Explicit Language Warning: Due to the nature of the topic, this video, featuring Ilan Stavans and John McWhorter, contains strong, mature language that some views might find offensive or inappropriate.

A Conversation with John McWhorter

April 8, 2021

EXPLICIT: Host Ilan Stavans leads John McWhorter in a discussion about how language reveals the anger we carry inside, as well as how “nasty” words change over time.

Transcript of John McWhorter

A Conversation with U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo

April 1, 2021

Host Ilan Stavans and U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo discuss the ways in which poetry is subversive, the similarities and differences between writing poetry and creating music, and between writing and dreaming.

Transcript of Joy Harjo

A Conversation with Fredrik Logevall and Jay Parini

March 25, 2021

In this conversation, hosted by Ilan Stavans, Fred Logevall and Jay Parini discuss how politicians and poets approach truth and the connection between JFK and Robert Frost.

Transcript of Fredrik Logevall and Jay Parini

A Conversation with Poet Jericho Brown

March 18, 2021

In this conversation, Ilan Stavans and Jericho Brown discuss the process of writing poetry, creative influences, and the role of the poet in the world today.

Transcript of Ilan Stavans and Poet Jericho Brown

A Conversation with David Brooks

Thursday, March 11, 2021

In this conversation, Ilan Stavans and David Brooks discuss if America’s ideological polarization is unbreachable and how we might find common ground.

Transcript of Ilan Stavans and David Brooks