Monday, January 19, 2009

Elizabeth Alexander: The Inaugural Poet

The selection of Yale professor and poet Elizabeth Alexander to write and deliver a poem at the inauguration of Barack Obama marks not only the return of poetry to a place of prominence in presidential history (she is only the fourth to read at a presidential swearing-in), but represents a true mind-meld between the president-elect and his chosen bard. Professor Alexander is a virtuosic writer and a shrewd analyst of American letters, a polyglot who moves fluently from essay to sonnet, from free verse to drama—and in her teaching, traces equally diverse themes. The Root
"I do know that when [Sen. Obama] was photographed a few days after the election, he was holding a copy of Derek Walcott’s collected poems. And let me tell you, an audible collective whoop rose up from the poetry world. It was so wonderful to see that three days after he was elected leader of the free world that he would literally model for us a book of poetry, show the value of taking a moment to see what wisdom could be found in a poem. And with a great poet like Walcott, who, of course, doesn’t shy away from politics and serious sociological thinking."


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