Michael Brandy, Deseret Morning News
Ken Sanders, owner of Ken Sanders Rare Books, is one of the hosts of a poetry radio program on KCPW.

At night after all the customers have left, Ken Sanders shuffles up and down the aisles of his bookstore, looking for a good book of poetry.

Sanders reads in his store in silence but reads out loud for a new radio program on KCPW.

"Poetry Is Wanted Here" is the title of the monthly radio show and the title of a poem by co-host Alex Caldiero, a Utah Valley State College instructor and nationally renowned poet.

Each 30-minute show revolves around a theme. The show began in November with war poetry for Veterans Day.

The next show is today at 10:30 a.m. Sanders, owner of Ken Sanders Rare Books on 200 East in Salt Lake City, and Caldiero will read love poems for Valentine's Day.

On the list of possible poets whose work they're considering reading: e.e. cummings, Allen Ginsberg, Edgar Allan Poe, Gertrude Stein and May Swenson.

"Then there's John Donne," Caldiero said. "There's a beautiful poem of where he describes his wife going to bed and undressing. Oh, man, it is wonderful."

Poetry, the hosts believe, is more than a hobby. It is, as Caldiero describes it, "a deeper way of feeling."

"To me, our poets of society are our cultural canaries in the coal mine," Sanders said. "If poetry is alive, then maybe the republic will survive. The poets are our conscience. They're our hearts. They really are the cultural expression of everything America should be about."

The show is part of the Midday Metro public affairs show on KCPW. Producer Lara Jones thinks the show's strength is the quality of poems chosen.

"It's just things you'd never get exposed to," she said.

"In March, we're going to do poetry of fluff — bad poetry," Caldiero said. "It looks like poetry. It smells like poetry, but it stinks."

"It's really got to descend to a really bad level. It's got to be as bad as 'I Am Not Spock,"' Sanders said, referring to the oft-criticized autobiography of Leonard Nimoy.

For more information, visit the radio station's Web site, www.kcpw.org.

E-mail: lhancock@desnews.com