Way back in 1993, MTV (which, at that time, was a television channel that aired programs that featured music) had a series called Unplugged, where some of the biggest names in music would play in a small studio with acoustic instruments. On one episode of the show poetry and spoken word took the stage and gave the mainstream audience of the time a taste of what was going on in the cafes and bars of the time all around the country.
Fast forward to 2007 and poetry is returning to the MTV family of fine networks on mtvU, their 24-hour channel that is broadcast to more than 750 college and university campuses across the United States. There are two new “landmark initiatives” underway to get young people more involved in reading and writing poetry.
Here is the text from the CNN/Money website with the story:
“This semester, mtvU introduces two new landmark initiatives to help inspire the next generation of great poets and poetry readers. First, the network is honored to name John Ashbery – one of the most vital and acclaimed American poets of the 20th century – as the first-ever mtvU Poet Laureate. Throughout the fall and spring semesters, mtvU will place poetry from Mr. Ashbery’s storied career, along with new poems, front and center on the channel, exposing his work to millions of students who may not already know it. The first in a series of eighteen promo spots, with excerpts from standout books including “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror,” “Where Shall I Wander?” and “Can You Hear, Bird?” begins airing on mtvU today. Each spot directs viewers to mtvU.com, where they can read more of Mr. Ashbery’s work and share it with their friends.
Today mtvU also unveils a first-of-its-kind opportunity for a top college poet to be published by HarperCollins as part of the prestigious National Poetry Series (NPS). For nearly 30 years the NPS has held an annual competition to find and expose the best emerging and standout poets in the country, and next year, for the first time, one of the series’ five published titles will be designated as a book-length manuscript composed by a college student. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa will judge submissions for the National Poetry Series mtvU Prize, and the winning student will interview Mr. Komunyakaa for an episode of mtvU’s series “My Shot With…” Submissions will be accepted beginning later this fall, and the winning manuscript will be published in 2008 as part of the NPS’ 30th anniversary series.
mtvU is committing the equivalent of at least $750,000 of airtime to showcasing Mr. Ashbery’s poetry and promoting the National Poetry Series mtvU prize during the 07-08 school year.”
To read the rest of the article and to find out what else is happening this semsester on mtvU, click here to head over to CNN/Money.