Watch these poems come to life

Reading Time: 3 minutes

It’s National Poetry Month like you’ve never seen it before.

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of national poetry moth, The Washington Post asked 10 Poets for and poems, and 10 designers to set those poems in motion.

Illustration by Rafael Verona


By Michael Robbins

Half of the Beatles have fallen
and half are yet to fall.
Keith Moon has set. Hank Williams
hasn’t answered yet.

Children sing for Alex Chilton.
Whitney Houston’s left the Hilton.
Hendrix, Guru, Bonham, Janis.
They have a tendency to vanish.

Bolan, Bell, and Boon by car.
How I wonder where they are.
Hell is now Jeff Hanneman’s.
Adam Yauch and three Ramones.

[This space held in reserve
for Zimmerman and Osterberg,
for Bruce and Neil and Keith,
that sere and yellow leaf.]

Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings,
Stinson, Sterling, Otis Redding.
Johnny Thunders and Joe Strummer,
Ronnie Dio, Donna Summer.

Randy Rhoads and Kurt Cobain,
Patsy Cline and Ronnie Lane.
Poly Styrene, Teena Marie.
Timor mortis conturbat me.

“Not Fade Away”, from “The Second Sex” by Michael Robbins, copyright © 2014 by Michael Robbins. Used by permission of Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.

Illustration by Hannah Jaocobs


By Dunya Mikhail

After this life
we’ll need a second life
to apply what we learned
in the first.

We make one mistake
after another
and need a second life
to forget.

We hum endlessly
as we wait for the departed:
we need a second life
for the whole song.

We go to war
and do everything Simon says:
we need a second life
for love alone.

We need time
to serve out our prison terms
so we can live free
in our second life.

We learn a new language
but need a second life
to practice it.

We write poetry and pass away,
and need a second life
to know the critics’ opinions.

We rush around
all over the place
and need a second life
to stop and take pictures.

Suffering takes time:
we need a second life
to learn to live
without pain.

“A Second Life” By Dunya Mikhail, translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, from “The Iraqi Nights,” copyright © 2013 by Dunya Mikhail. Translation copyright © 2014 by Kareem James Abu-Zeid. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Illustration by Bran Dougherty-Johnson


By John Yau

Or is it
a poor trait

I am a

I lift off
the wings

of others

Courtesy of John Yau/Bran Dougherty-Johnson/

Want to read the rest of our animated poems? Visit the Washington Post to see — and hear — the writing come to life.

Published by Ross

Ross grew up on the wrong side of the Jukskei. He studied at Vega and was awarded the Top Student prize at his graduation. After working as a freelancer for four years, he founded Nicework with Ben Vorster. He has a penchant for Scandinavian wood furniture and really nice shirts. He is open to bribery- all iPads are welcome. He also likes chocolate cake and is happily married.

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