Garrison Keillor on loving poetry ‘as clear statement’

BY Victoria Fleischer  July 25, 2014 at 4:33 PM EST

NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown spoke with Garrison Keillor of “A Prairie Home Companion” and “The Writer’s Almanac,” about the American Public Media host’s relationship to poetry.

In college, Garrison Keillor studied poetry as an English major. But when the host of “A Prairie Home Companion” and “The Writer’s Almanac” returned to poetry decades later, his interest was “entirely different,” he said. His relationship to it had evolved.

“You come to love poetry as a clear statement,” Keillor told NewsHour correspondent Jeffrey Brown. “Somebody who is telling you straight from my heart to your heart about something that is real.”

On “The Writer’s Almanac,” Garrison recites a poem during each program.

“If I edited poetry for print, it might be different. But I don’t. I am choosing poems that I can read to someone who is busy doing other things and they can – even listening with one ear – they can get it.”

His new book, “The Keillor Reader,” features some of his own poetry alongside a compilation of his works for A Prairie Home Companion, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, novels and newspaper columns.

Keillor writes rhyming sonnets, triple limericks and other poems for special occasions – as gifts to friends and family members.

“When you write a poem (for somebody)… you’ve made something for them that nobody else is gonna make.”

Occasionally, he also writes erotic sonnets.

“That’s the beauty of getting older. You really have a lot more freedom than you had when you were in your 30s,” Keillor said. “When you’re in your 30s, you’re imprisoned in your own sensibility, and you really loosen up when you get older. I hope. I hope you do.”

Tune in to Saturday’s broadcast of the PBS NewsHour Weekend to hear more from senior correspondent Jeffrey Brown’s conversation with Garrison Keillor. You can also watch the video below: