Welcome to Making Meaning, a podcast that explores how and why the humanities are an essential part of our everyday lives. In this series, we hear stories from our nation’s humanities councils and leaders across the greater United States about the role the humanities have played during the pandemic and are playing in our recovery. Listen to the trailer in English and in Spanish translation. All episodes become available on Tuesday, November 9, 2021, wherever you receive your podcasts.

Episode 2:  Civic Engagement by Way of Poetry

Carol Ann Carl, a storyteller from Pohnpei Island in the Federated States of Micronesia, talks about how she uses poetry to advocate for historically marginalized communities, and two-term US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey describes how poetry can articulate acts of civic engagement.

Guest Bios:

Carol Ann Carl is a daughter of the beautiful island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. Having graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, she now lives and works in the Kingdom of Hawai’i. Currently, Carol Ann is a Grant Writer at Kokua Kalihi Valley, a nonprofit community health center. She is a Micronesian advocate and activist whose work in community revolves around Micronesian youth and women. As a storyteller, her collective work KEWERIWER (pronounced kuh-wer-ih-wer) is a collection of writing and poetry that explores the social context of her life and her life as a transformer of that social context. Most recently, her work has been featured in the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Celebrate Micronesia Festival, and the Why It Matters civic engagement docuseries for the Hawai’i Council for the Humanities.

Read more about Carol Ann Carl’s work

Learn more about the Why it Matters Poetry Workshop she taught through the Hawai’i Council for the Humanities

Explore other programs in the Why it Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation initiative, which was generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

Natasha Trethewey served two terms as the 19th Poet Laureate of the United States (2012-2014). She is the author of five collections of poetry, including Native Guard (2006)—for which she was awarded the 2007 Pulitzer Prize—and, most recently, Monument: Poems New and Selected (2018); a book of non-fiction, Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (2010); and a memoir, Memorial Drive (2020) an instant New York Times Bestseller. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Beinecke Library at Yale, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She is a fellow of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2017 she received the Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities. A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets since 2019, Trethewey was awarded the 2020 Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt Prize in Poetry for Lifetime Achievement from the Library of Congress. Currently, she is Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University.

Learn more about Natasha Trethewey on her website.

Voices featured at the top of the show: Ciera Fisher (Delaware Humanities), Sue Skalicky (Humanities North Dakota), and Dr. Artika R. Tyner (author of Justice Makes a Difference hosted by Minnesota Humanities Center).

Find out more about civic engagement and the humanities on our blog:

This is Our Voice’: Just Futures Youth Summit, Hawai’i Council for the Humanities

A Conversation on Decolonization with Humanities Guåhan

Uncovering the News: The Who, Where, When, Why, and How of Media Consumption Today with Georgia Broadcasting and Georgia Humanities

Building Trust: Telling Stories

Beyond Just Voting’: The Native Vote in Montana

HNY’s Amended Podcast and the Nuances of History-telling

“The Future of Journalism, the Fate of Democracy” with Virginia Humanities

Why Civics Matters: Exploring What Civic Engagement Means Today

The show is produced by LWC. Elizabeth Nakano is our producer and sound designer. Jimmy Gutierrez edited the series. Jen Chien is executive editor. Cedric Wilson is lead producer. Spanish translations by Virginia Lora. You can find more episodes on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. 

Making Meaning is a podcast from the Federation of State Humanities Councils and is part of its “Humanities in American Life” initiative, which is generously funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Note: The opinions and ideas expressed in this episode are those of our guests and do not necessarily reflect those held by the Federation of State Humanities Councils or its funders.