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From Stanzas to Screen: Four Fun TV Recs for Poets

Of course, reading and writing usually stand out as a poet’s most beloved pastimes. However, turning to different modes of entertainment can help fend off burn-out. Sometimes, the urge strikes to curl up with take-out and a favorite show. When it does, add these literary-minded options to your list.

 

1. Dickinson, streaming on Apple TV

 

This historically inspired show stars Hailee Steinfeld as the titular Emily Dickinson, exploring her talent and ambition at a time when few women pursued a writing career. In addition to her prolific love of verse, the show also delves into Dickinson’s potential queerness, her family life, and the societal expectations of her time period, offering a more in-depth look into the famously private figure. Set during her teenage years, the dramedy traces the origins of Dickinson’s poetic passion and helps viewers relate to her—all while cleverly forecasting her iconic legacy. 

Watch it if you love: Classic poetry, like the works of the show’s namesake.

 

2. The Get Down, streaming on Netflix

 

Despite its cancellation after one season, The Get Down remains a cult classic, with high scores from both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. The musical series, set in South Bronx, reimagines MC Brooks as a teenager and chronicles the rise of hip-hop. The first episode opens with Zeke (teenage Brooks) reading a poem, a testament to the connection between poetry and music. The scene, which feels reminiscent of slam poetry, forecasts Brooks’ lyricism and the pivotal role it will play in his burgeoning career. 

Watch it if you love: Award-winning poet Hanif Abdurraqib, who frequently writes about music.

 

3. One Tree Hill, streaming on Hulu

 

This ‘00s CW throwback packs the dreamy love interests and non-stop drama of any teen sitcom, but rises to the top of its genre with well-written characters and impactful dialogue. Specifically, protagonist Lucas Scott balances basketball, a complicated family background, and a deep love of literature and writing. Most episodes begin and end with the words of famed, classic authors, proving that themes like love and grief are truly universal and transcend generations. 

Watch it if you love: Poets like Courtney Peppernell, who writes about the intricacies of love and heartbreak. 

 

4. Little Fires Everywhere, streaming on Hulu

 

This book-to-TV adaption captured viewers with its complex portrayal of mother-daughter relationships, the intersections of race and class, privilege, and so much more. For those that gravitate toward poetry for its emotional weight, this show carries a similar tune and power. It also takes on the empathy and complexity of poetry—nearly every character has traits to both love and hate. Central character Pearl Warren turns to poetry to make sense of her shifting place in the world, from references to Adriene Rich to her own original words. 

Watch it if you love: Poets like Maggie Smith, who writes about the nuanced bond of motherhood.

 

Once you’re feeling refueled, remember that TV doesn’t have to be just a way to turn your mind off. Rather, like all pop culture, it presents an opportunity to step into another setting and story. Consider writing a persona poem from the perspective of your favorite character as a poetic exercise.