Monday, December 29, 2008

Elizabeth Alexander to read at inauguration

This just in
from the poetry and politics department. Elizabeth Alexander, a poet, essayist, playwright, and teacher, has been selected to read a poem at Barack Obama's inauguration. Read a story about the selection here. I'm hoping that this choice is better than the selection of Rick Warren to give the invocation. While I'm not familiar with Alexander, she is the author of four books of poems, The Venus Hottentot, Body of Life, Antebellum Dream Book, and American Sublime, which was one of three finalists for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. She is also a scholar of African-American literature and culture and recently published a collection of essays, The Black Interior.

She has read her work across the U.S. and in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America, and her poetry, short stories, and critical prose have been published in dozens of periodicals and anthologies. She has received many grants and honors, most recently the Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship for work that “contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954,” and the 2007 Jackson Prize for Poetry, awarded by Poets and Writers. She is a professor at Yale University, and for the academic year 2007-2008 she is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

I enjoyed the poem On the Pulse of the Morning, that Maya Angelou read at Bill Clinton's first inauguration. Maybe Alexander can top it. Question: Do you think it's any coincidence that only democrats select a poet to read at presidential inaugurations?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am totally unfamiliar with Ms. Alexander's work, but I look forward to exploring it.

I remember being extremely moved by Maya's reading at Clinton's inauguration. Recently, I rewatched it on You Tube. If anyone else would like to, here's the link:


The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau