Get smart curated videos delivered to your inbox.   SUBSCRIBE
The Kid Should See This

Ars Poetica #100: I Believe by Elizabeth Alexander

Watch more with these video collections:

“Poetry, I tell my students, is idiosyncratic. Poetry is where we are ourselves…” begins poet, scholar, and educator Dr. Elizabeth Alexander. In this animated video from On Being’s excellent Poetry Film series, Dr. Alexander reads her poem “Ars Poetica #100: I Believe“.

The poem was originally recorded for an episode of the podcast On Being with Krista Tippett. The short was directed and animated by Jocie Juritz, with sound and music by Galina Juritz.

directed and animated by Jocie Juritz
directed and animated by Jocie Juritz

Read along with the full poem below. You can also hear the audio without visuals at OnBeing.org:

Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves
(though Sterling Brown said

“Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I’”),
digging in the clam flats

for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,

overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

Dr. Elizabeth Alexander’s work was shortlisted twice for Pulitzer Prizes. She has taught at Smith, Columbia, and Yale, was the 2009 inaugural poet (Praise Song for the Day), and is the president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest supporter of arts and humanities.

directed and animated by Jocie Juritz
There’s a growing collection of poetry on TKSST, including two from inaugural poet Amanda Gorman:
“Talking Gets Us There” with Amanda Gorman & PBS Kids
• ‘The Hill We Climb’ by Amanda Gorman
• The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry, animated
• We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks, a poem told with paper-cut puppetry

This Webby award-winning video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity. TKSST features smarter, more meaningful content than what's usually served up by YouTube's algorithms, and amplifies the creators who make that content.

Curated, kid-friendly, independently-published. Support this mission by becoming a sustaining member today.

🌈 Watch these videos next...

We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks, a poem told with paper-cut puppetry

Rion Nakaya

“Talking Gets Us There” with Amanda Gorman and PBS Kids

Rion Nakaya

The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry, animated

Rion Nakaya

‘The Hill We Climb’ by Amanda Gorman

Rion Nakaya

Juneteenth, the 155th anniversary Google Doodle narrated by LeVar Burton

Rion Nakaya

Preschool Poets: Animated shorts based on poems by 4 & 5-year -olds

Rion Nakaya

The Door – A poem by Miroslav Holub

Rion Nakaya

Wangari Maathai – “I will be a hummingbird”

Rion Nakaya