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Video Transcription

Piano music plays.

Regina Spektor: 

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Host Elisa New:

That was such a beautiful reading, Regina. In fact it wasn’t a reading; you memorized the poem. This poem is a sonnet, it begins with an eight line octet, and then moves to a six line sestet, which is a fixed, traditional form. What your reading did, was combine a warmth that sounded very contemporary with the elevation and the grandeur of this language, you humanized the poem, but you left the grandeur.

Regina Spektor:

You know I come from a culture where poetry was recited constantly throughout life. In the Soviet Union, everybody memorized poems and once you are using your voice, it’s this in-between thing, it’s conversation but it’s also elevated, it just kind of vibrates on a higher level.