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The Inaugural Poet Chosen

By December 18, 2008

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Soon after Election Day we asked “Who should be the inaugural poet for President-elect Obama?”—and you, dear Readers, responded with lots of names and incisive comments. Now, a month later, the program for Inauguration Day is taking shape, it has been decided who is going to read a poem during Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony—and it’s someone whose name never made it onto our list: Elizabeth Alexander, poet, essayist, playwright, Professor of African-American Studies at Yale University, and board member of the Poetry Society of America and Cave Canem. She has published four books of poems:

The Venus Hottentot (originally published in 1990, now available in a Graywolf Press reissue, 2004)

Body of Life (Northwestern University Press, 1997)

Antebellum Dream Book (Graywolf Press, 2001)

American Sublime (Graywolf Press, 2005)

from The Washington Post:
The Inaugural Poet: Selection Provides Civil Rights Symmetry,” by Michael E. Ruane
“On Aug. 28, 1963, a young government lawyer and his wife pushed their 1-year-old daughter in a stroller from their home in Southwest Washington to the vast civil rights march on the Mall, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stood at the Lincoln Memorial and gave his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Next month, the little girl, Elizabeth Alexander, now 46, a prize-winning poet and professor of African American studies at Yale University, is scheduled to stand at the other end of the Mall before what will probably be an even bigger throng and read a poem at the inauguration of the nation’s first African American president.”

Bravo! This seems like an inspired choice to me. For a sample of what Alexander may have to say on Inauguration Day, listen to these YouTube readings:


December 26, 2008 at 12:47 pm
(1) Angela Khristin Brown says:

Inauguration Day.2009. Obama

A man defines his teratory thorugh reason
A man justifies his foundation through inquiry
A man relates truth thoough definition
A man defiess war thorugh opposition
A man describes reason thorugh fate
And a man is at peace through meditation

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