Kwame Alexander created a poem about public media with help from ‘Viewers Like You’

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Courtesy of CPB by Darrell Miho

Kwame Alexander reads his crowdsourced poem May 14 at the PBS Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.

During the CPB program at the PBS Annual Meeting earlier this month in Las Vegas, poet and best-selling author Kwame Alexander read an original crowdsourced poem he wrote after speaking with people nationwide about the power of public media’s storytelling.

Before he read the poem, Alexander explained that he wanted to curate something that summarized why public media is important to people. “I met folks who were young, I met folks who were older. I talked to kids, I talked to adults,” Alexander told the audience. “And what I came up with were many different voices coming together to create a community poem.”

The poem, which drew an enthusiastic response from conference attendees, includes lyrical references to programs and ideas that will be familiar to viewers and listeners of PBS and NPR.

It was not the first time Alexander has crowdsourced a poem. In 2021, the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Ala., partnered with him to produce “A Community Poem.” For that exhibit, people were invited to submit original poems about racial justice and human rights. Alexander then combined lines from multiple submissions into a single work.

In 2022, Alexander created a community poem for NPR focused on loved ones using a similar idea, and last year he wrote another poem for NPR about dreams, rest and relaxation.

Alexander is the 2015 winner of the John Newbery Medal for The Crossover. His 2019 book The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, won the Randolph Caldecott Medal in 2020. Alexander’s children’s book, Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band, is being developed into a children’s series produced by GBH in Boston. Below is the poem Alexander recited at the Annual Meeting. (Watch a video of Alexander reading the poem.)

You’ve Made This Day: A Community Poem

By Kwame Alexander

Compiled from listeners and viewers like you

From the heart
of the American Experience
to the Frontlines of the world
You’ve made this day
an adventure
filled with wonder

Every day
You get up
You tie your shoes
And go out there
And find the stories
That make us us.

You bring it back
And stitch it together
And show us us.

The sound of the masses
Like wind sweeping
at the noble pine
Bend and twist
changing its form
Strong roots grasping
at the truth
a place for all
of our stories,
a testament
to what is possible.

We all need to make sure that we fully understand our country.

You. You. You are our mirror.

You show us
Unflinching beauty
Unhidden scars
Untold pain
Unwavering hope
Undeniable strength

I love to watch
The Sun
Melt into
The Seas
Of tranquility

The reason
That I’m drawn
To your dial
And Mesmerized
By your vision
it because it gives me
A Sense of Confidence
A Peace of mind
A heart with hope
No matter the topic

You’ve made this day
One of a shared connectivity
A human network
A community
coming together in unity
generations engaged

Hearing my grandchildren
Come on and zoom, zoom, zooma-Zoom

Through Covid and beyond
Cookie Monster and Elmo
Made them feel seen
Heard them
Filled them up with Friendship and security
A new window of possibility
A different view
the world

You all became our neighbors.

Every day was a teachable moment
and always something to learn.

I found out that being able to read
is the real gold
at the end of the Rainbow.

And if I’m being honest
I didn’t even know that Wish Bone was a real thing

I guess this is where my obsession with dogs began.


Wait wait…you tell us
to consider all things:
You’ve made this day digestible

We barely notice the striped cat
staring from a windowsill,
dinner smells carried on the wind,
the widow’s illuminated face
in the kitchen window as
she washes her dishes,
one plate, one bowl, one cup—
her grin while she sings
to herself. A tune from her childhood.
Her head, tilted toward the stars.

The world is a lonely place
until we consider the neighbor
we have noticed, but never spoken to-
each one, singing their own tune.

We muse, we dream, we play
as you paint the weekend palatable
on a Sunday morning in this life.

You are everywhere making lovelier.

We paint our paintings
and sing our operas and
pantomime our pain
on plastered walls.

We will never let our sentences silent.
You’ve made this day for bold brushstrokes
and breathing it all in deeply.

See what can happen when art leads the way.

Wait wait…we tell you
keep on connecting this airwave community
keep on investigating and informing
keep on reliably reporting and remembering
keep on making our days
places for listening, learning, questioning, answering, sharing, wondering
keep on making our days

Yes, you have made this day
You have made this day
and every day
an adventure filled with wonder
and clarity
and now I understand the assignment

After listening to you
I wake up with a purpose
decisive with my thoughts
Bold with my words
Brave with my choices.

Have made this day
About us.

Have made this day
About us.


And we thank you!


  • Ellen Frank Bayer, Woodmere, N.Y.
  • Bob DiCarlo, Amherst, Mass.
  • Van Garrett, Houston
  • Carly Hurt, Lafayette, Calif., and Amsterdam
  • A.W. Jackson, Waldorf, Md.
  • Marshall Johnson, Jr., Mitchellville, Md.
  • Sarah Grace McCandless, Portland, Ore.
  • Karen McCarthy, Redondo Beach, Calif.
  • Amy Parker, Murfreesboro, Tenn/
  • Deb Putnoi, Boston
  • Leslee Carlson Wagner, Swarthmore, Pa.
  • Marjory Wentworth, Springfield, Ohio
  • Valerie Wood, Los Angeles

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