The Poetry of #TheJoshuaTreeTour2019

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2019-11-29)

Initially Published: November 11, 2019 Last Updated: November 29, 2019

U2 is using poetry on the screen to entertain before and after the opening act appears on the stage. We see words scroll on the large screen to the right side of the stage. The poems vary from short to long, and include a number written by American poets, as well as a number from outside America. They used similar poems in 2017, indeed, some of those poems are still in the rotation in 2019.

During the two shows in New Zealand and Australia to date we’ve identified the following poems as having appeared on screen. Much the same as we did in 2019, we will continue to look for these and compile a list of what we see over the course of this tour.

The poems we identified in shows on this leg that were also used during the 2017 tour are as follows:

  • “Let America Be America Again” – Langston Hughes
  • “I Too” – Langston Hughes
  • “Puerto Rican Obituary” – Pedro Pietri
  • “Powwow at the End of the World” – Sherman Alexie
  • “America Politica Historia” – Gregory Corso
  • “Praise Song for the Day” – Elizabeth Alexander
  • “Preliminary Sketches: Philadelphia” – Elizabeth Alexander
  • “America I.” – Kate Hoyle
  • “America II. – From the Attic, Looking out the window” – Kate Hoyle
  • “America IV.” – Kate Hoyle
  • “America V. – Heart” – Kate Hoyle
  • “The World is a Beautiful Place” – Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  • “One Today” – Richard Blanco
  • “Learning to Love America” – Shirley Geok-Lin Lim
  • “The Strength of Fields” – James L. Dickey
  • “Prairie” – Carl Sandburg
  • “Kindness” – Naomi Shihab Nye
  • “United” – Naomi Shihab Nye
  • “Facing It” – Yusef Komunyakaa
  • “Let There Be New Flowering” – Lucille Clinton
  • “Wingfoot Lake” – Rita Dove
  • “Ghazal for White Hen Pantry” – Jamila Woods

New poems were also identified, that had not appeared in 2017, including the following:

  • “Piha Beach, Winter” – Heidi North
  • “One World” – Briar Wood
  • “Ahakoa he iti he pounamu” – Louise Wallace
  • “Into the First Cold” – Albert Wendt
  • “The Invention of Pigs” – Les Murray
  • “My Country” – Dorothea Mackellar

All four of the new poems identified in Auckland are by New Zealand based poets. The fifth and sixth poems on the list are by Australian writers and appeared on the screens there. The living local poets in the most recent tour were aware that their poems would be featured on the screen, and were compensated for their use. A couple of the poets tweeted about seeing their poetry on the screen itself. Australian poet Judith Wright has also been identified as an author of one of the poems in Australia, however, we have not yet identified the poem.

Louise Wallace, writer of “Ahakoa he iti he pounamu | Although it is small it is greenstone” posted the following:

Heidi North, writer of “Piha Beach, Winter” posted the following:

We do not expect this to be the full list of what has been shown on the screen between the two shows in Auckland. We will fill in more detail as it is available. And if you have any information about other poems that appeared, or want to share photos of poems for identification please contact us.

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