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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

Poetry and the Presidential Election

By November 5, 2012

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Poetry was everywhere in the 2008 American Presidential election, from the surfacing of the poems Barack Obama wrote when he was young, to the various analyses of poetry vs. prose in the candidates’ campaign rhetoric and styles, to the mocking compilation of found poetry from one vice-presidential candidate’s utterances. But there hasn’s been much poetry visible in this 2012 Presidential election season.... until now, at the very end, when a number of commentaries have adopted poetry and prose as metaphors for eloquence, for effective speech, in rhetorical analysis of the campaigns:

from The Guardian (UK):
Has Barack Obama rediscovered the poetry of his 2008 campaign in time?” by Robert McCrum
“After failing to find a presidential language to match the inspiring rhetoric of his first tilt at the White House, Obama has found his voice again in the closing days of the 2012 campaign....”

from Politico.com:
Obama’s stump speech: Prose over poetry,” by Edward-Isaac Dovere
“In 2008, Barack Obama closed his campaign with poetry. This time, he’s finishing with constrained, calibrated prose....”

from AFP (newswire):
Obama ditches poetry, finds new voice,” by Stephen Collinson
“Barack Obama made his name with elevated rhetoric, though his professorial soliloquies can draw yawns and conservatives mock him as an empty suit hostage to the teleprompter. But in the last days of his last campaign, the US president is finding a new voice.... Obama... has finally boiled his case for himself, and against Republican Mitt Romney, down to a couple of pithy paragraphs.”

Does poetry win Presidential elections? We’ll see a sign this week....

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