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PBS Newshour features poem by alumnus

March 06, 2014

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“Help,” by Nick Lantz B.A. ’03, was recently featured as the poem of the week for PBS Newshour. It is part of Lantz’s newest poetry collection, titled How to Dance as the Roof Caves In.

When writing and compiling the collection, Lantz drew inspiration from a website of how-to articles. As a found poem, “Help” weaves many how-to titles—from the sensible and general to the strange and specific—into a semi-cohesive narrative. Each stanza reveals a message about someone who desires to improve him- or herself.

The theme of self-help is one that pervades How to Dance as the Roof Caves In. From Lantz’s perspective, there is often a story to be derived from a how-to article, based on the implications of its title or the voice of its author.

Lantz’s first collection of poems was the satirical We Don’t Know We Don’t Know, which won the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize in 2009 and took its title from Donald Rumsfeld’s infamous statement about war in Iraq. According to Publishers Weekly, the collection “assesses what it means to claim new knowledge within a culture that professes to know everything already.”

The Lightning That Strikes the Neighbors’ House, Lantz’s second collection, was released in 2010 and won the Felix Pollak Prize that year. It explores the life-altering power of miracle and catastrophe.

Lantz currently teaches in the M.F.A. writing program at Sam Houston State University in Texas, where he is also poetry editor of the Texas Review.

Katrina Staaf ’16 contributed to this story.

PBS Newshour’s Weekly Poem Department of English