Obama Inaugural Poem by Elizabeth Alexander
Posted 20 January 2009 - 01:39 PM
(Here it is, if you didn't get a chance to hear it this morning)
Posted 20 January 2009 - 02:25 PM
Asked if she thought that the friendship played a role in her being picked for the inauguration, she said no. The Obamas have many friends and know other poets, she said.
Nice gesture to have a poet read at the inaugural.
In Japan, they’ve been doing the poetry thing all along, and members of the imperial family compose their own.
The solemn, pomp-filled ceremony, at which singers wearing tuxedos slowly chant poems in front of the royal family, was held at an austere palace hall and broadcast live on national television.
Posted 20 January 2009 - 03:49 PM
My favorite poetry of the day was at the end of Reverend Lowery's benediction, when he turned bluesman Big Bill Broonzy's lamentation
if you was brown, stick around,
but as you's black, hmm brother, get back, get back, get back"
into the anticipation verging on celebration of
Posted 20 January 2009 - 04:29 PM
Her prosaic verse was a little too prosy, although I saw what she was getting at. (It didn't help that she followed the main event on the program, so a slight letdown was probably inevitable.)
Posted 20 January 2009 - 05:13 PM
Dirac, I hear your 'prosy' element, but for me that came more from her delivery than the actual text. Reading it aloud to myself, it feels quite different than hearing her speaking voice.
Posted 20 January 2009 - 06:40 PM
Posted 20 January 2009 - 07:44 PM
Posted 21 January 2009 - 01:29 AM
Good poets are not necessarily the best readers of their own works. Elizabeth Bishop's poems sound so plain and uninteresting in the recordings she made of them, but on the page... ["On the east steps, the Air Force Band in uniforms of Air Force blue is playing loud and hard..."]
Posted 21 January 2009 - 02:10 AM
I had never seen or heard of Elizabeth Alexander before and I beheld a woman of great dignity who read a serious and powerful poem which though stilted at times in content and dellivery I thought was most fitting and I was truly impressed. I hope a renewal is to take place in America and that people will remember Alexander's poem not in entirely in its words but in the statements and feelings it expressed.
Posted 21 January 2009 - 06:29 AM
Well, maybe one more thing should be on the agenda: Invite Aretha Franklin to sing some civic hymn or other so long as she promises to wear a fabulous hat! I loved that hat: a perfect, bold expression of the exuberant joy of a remarkable day.
Posted 21 January 2009 - 06:57 AM
Posted 21 January 2009 - 07:40 AM
Stimulus opportunity! Monthly Presidential performing arts broadcasts, inlcuding live HD simulcasts in movie theaters and school auditoriums, Hulu streams, and You Tube videos. Send a DVD with each Tax Refund check.
The list of potential command performers is long indeed. Although Renee Fleming is not a particular favorite of mine, she'd be a well-known and glamorous first choice to kick the series off. Nico Muhly and / or Matt Haimowitz live from Le Poisson Rouge would be fun ...
I remember a televised performance of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Heather Watts dancing something from Rubies in the East Room of the White House. (And I do hope I'm not mis-remembering!)
Posted 21 January 2009 - 10:30 AM
How true. We forget how rare it is for power to be handed over peacefully in this way. At worst, the ex-President stands by with a grumpy look, but that's about as bad as it gets.
Good poets are not necessarily the best readers of their own works. Elizabeth Bishop's poems sound so plain and uninteresting in the recordings she made of them, but on the page...
The 'thorn and din' passage was awkward, I thought. It does improve after that. But this was a poem intended all along to be read aloud to a big crowd, so how it sounds is at least as important as how it reads.
It's true that many poets don't read their own poems very well. W.C. Williams springs to mind.
Posted 21 January 2009 - 10:43 AM
Posted 21 January 2009 - 11:06 AM
No, you are not misremembering. They performed the Rubies duet for President Carter. Patricia McBride was there, too, and danced the Act One [i]Harlequinade pas de deux with Baryshnikov; they had a coda and solos, too (the only video souvenir of that magical lullaby Balanchine choreographed for her in Act Two), and some local kids offered a few of the enchanting children's dances. I'm with you about La Fleming, but if she could help jump-start some kind of revival of the arts at the White House, more power to her.
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