Grace Cavalieri

Interview with Sterling A. Brown

Photo by Addison Scurlock, courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution

Forty years ago, Grace Cavalieri interviewed Sterling A. Brown for her radio program, “The Poet and the Poem.” Recorded live at Brown’s home in 1977 with rudimentary equipment, the recording was later restored by Mike Turpin. Cavalieri believes that this is the only extant radio show featuring Brown.

In this hour-long recording, Brown reads his poems “After Winter,” “Sister Lou,” “Odyssey of Big Boy,” and “Long Gone,” and talks about teaching, the dramatic narrative in poems, the influence of poets on his work (such as Robert Frost, Robert Burns, and Jean Toomer), and his use of folk idioms.

We note with pleasure that Grace Cavalieri wrote the proposal nominating Sterling A. Brown as the first Poet Laureate of Washington, DC, from the initiatives of E. Ethelbert Miller and James Early. The nomination was submitted to Councilwoman Hilda Mason, who ensured its passage by the DC City Council. Brown was officially appointed by Mayor Marion Barry in May 1984.



Permission to reprint provided by Grace Cavalieri, Forest Woods Media Productions.


Grace Cavalieri's newest publication is What the Psychic Said (Goss Publications, 2020). She has twenty books and chapbooks of poetry in print, and has had 26 plays produced on American stages. She founded and still produces "The Poet and the Poem," a series for public radio celebrating 40 years on-air, now from the Library of Congress.. She received the 2013 George Garrett Award from The Associate Writing Programs. To read more by this author: Grace Cavalieri: Winter 2001; Introduction to "The Bunny and the Crocodile" Issue: Spring 2004; Grace Cavalieri on Roland Flint: Memorial Issue; Grace Cavalieri: Whitman Issue; Grace Cavalieri: Wartime Issue; Grace Cavalieri: Evolving City Issue; Grace Cavalieri: Split This Rock Issue; Grace Cavalieri on Ann Darr: Forebears Issue; Grace Cavalieri on "The Poet & The Poem": Literary Organizations Issue.