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Poet Laureate Donald Hall | 'Da Vinci Code' | Anthony Hamilton's Music


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Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC, in VOA Special English.

I'm Doug Johnson. On our show this week:

We answer a question about "The Da Vinci Code"…

Play some music from Anthony Hamilton…

And report about America's new poet laureate.

New Poet Laureate

Donald Hall has been named the new poet laureate of the United States.  Faith Lapidus tells us about him.

The poet laureate is responsible for increasing interest among Americans in reading and writing poetry.  The poet laureate serves for at least one year.  Donald Hall is the fourteenth poet laureate of the United States. He is seventy-seven years old.  Mr. Hall lives in the northeastern state of New Hampshire. He lives in a two hundred year old farmhouse that his grandparents owned for many years.

Donald Hall has written fifteen books of poetry.  He has also written other books, short stories, plays and children's books.  He has been honored with many awards. A documentary film was made about Mr. Hall and his wife, the poet Jane Kenyon.  The film was called "A Life Together."  Here is Shep O'Neal reading part of Mr. Hall's poem "An Old Life."

Snow fell in the night.
At five-fifteen I woke to a bluish
mounded softness where
the Honda was. Cat fed and coffee made,
I broomed snow off the car
and drove to the Kearsarge Mini-Mart
before Amy opened
to yank my Globe out of the bundle.
Back, I set my cup of coffee
beside Jane, still half-asleep,
murmuring stuporous
thanks in the aquamarine morning.

Mr. Hall has written many poems about nature and about his wife.  Jane Kenyon died of leukemia, a cancer of the blood, in nineteen ninety-five. She was forty-seven.

Mr. Hall has written many different kinds of poems.  Here is part of his poem "Baseball":

Well, there are nine players on a baseball team, so to speak, and
there are nine innings, with trivial
exceptions like extra-inning games
and games shortened by rain or darkness,
by riot, hurricane, earthquake...

As the new poet laureate, Donald Hall has many goals.  He hopes to have more radio broadcasts of poetry on public radio stations.  He would also like to see more television programs about poetry.  The last poet laureate, Ted Kooser, writes a weekly column about poetry that is printed in newspapers around the country.  Mr. Hall says he would also like to write a newspaper column about poetry. And he says he wants to work to protect Americans' freedom of speech.

The Da Vinci Code

Our listener question today comes from Vietnam.  Mai Lien wants to know if the story in the movie "The Da Vinci Code" is true.

Ron Howard directed the film, "The Da Vinci Code."  It is based on a book of the same name by Dan Brown.  Both men say the story is fiction, a work of imagination.  But some of the history, places and events in the story are real.  So it is not hard to see why people are arguing about the truth, or lack of it, in "The Da Vinci Code."

People have bought more than sixty million copies of the book in three years.  The movie is also very popular.  In its first weekend alone, the movie earned more than two hundred twenty million dollars around the world.

The story tells about a dangerous search for the Holy Grail.  The Grail usually has been thought of as a cup, a container used during the last meal of Jesus and his followers. The Grail also is said to have held the blood of Jesus as he died on the cross.

But "The Da Vinci Code" is based on the idea that one of Jesus' followers, Mary Magdalene, was also his wife.  The story says she and Jesus had a baby daughter. The film says Mary Magdalene herself is the Holy Grail. The story says Mary and her daughter fled to France after Jesus was killed. It says their descendants are alive today.

Critics say this idea attacks the central beliefs of the Christian religion.  They say it unfairly charges that the Roman Catholic Church has been suppressing the truth. Some Catholic officials have called on Catholics to boycott the movie.

Most experts on the Bible, the Christian holy book, say there is no evidence that Jesus was ever married. Others say no evidence exists that he was not married.

In the film, actors  struggle to discover the secret of the Grail.  Tautou's character's grandfather knew the secret.  But he is found dead in the Louvre museum in Paris, France.  This is the home of the famous  "Mona Lisa" painting by Leonardo Da Vinci.  The story says that Da Vinci's artworks contain clues about where the body of Mary Magdalene is buried.  But a number of real-life art experts dispute the idea.

Anthony Hamilton

Singer Anthony Hamilton is one of today's most popular performers of rhythm and blues music.  But there was a time when it seemed he would not become a widely known singer. Mario Ritter tells us about him.

In two thousand three, Anthony Hamilton gained praise from music critics with his album "Comin' From Where I'm From."  The album sold more than one million copies.  Before the success of that album, Hamilton had recorded songs with two other record companies.  But in both cases the companies failed before his albums were released.

Anthony Hamilton recently released another album.   It is called "Ain't Nobody Worryin'."  Here he sings the title song from the album.

Anthony Hamilton has been compared to some of the best soul singers including Al Green and Bill Withers.  Hamilton's voice is natural and easy.  His writes and sings songs that are filled with emotion.  That combination works well in the love song "Can't Let Go."

Hamilton says he writes songs about real life issues including his personal experiences.  We leave you with the song "Pass Me Over" from Anthony Hamilton's album "Ain't Nobody Worryin'."

I'm Doug Johnson.  I hope you enjoyed our program today.

This show was written by Lawan Davis, Erin Schiavone and Jerilyn Watson. Caty Weaver was our producer.  To read the text of this program and download audio, go to our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com.

Join us again next week for AMERICAN MOSAIC, VOA's radio magazine in Special English.


"American Mosaic" in VOA Special English
www.manythings.org/voa/america

Source: Poet Laureate Donald Hall | 'Da Vinci Code' | Anthony Hamilton's Music
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