It's official. Barack Obama is our new president! Moments ago, it felt like the whole world breathed a collective sigh of relief. The next person to speak after President Obama's inauguration speech was poet Elizabeth Alexander, only the fourth poet to read at an inauguration in our country's history. Previous inaugural poets were Robert Frost at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy, and Maya Angelou and Miller Williams at the inaugurations of William Jefferson Clinton. We second Alexander's reaction to the choice, "I hope that this portends well for the future of the arts in our everyday and civic life.”
For more on Alexander's poetry and her thoughts on the inauguration, see her website for links to articles and interviews.
The poem itself has not made it into print online or into recorded history on YouTube, but will be available as a chapbook through Alexander's publisher, Graywolf Press, in an initial print run of 100,000 copies starting on February 6. You can place an advanced order through their website.
Can't get enough of inaugural poetry? Check out other peoms by Suzan Lori-Parks, Gayle Danley, Nikki Giovanni and Calvin Trillin here.