to Ms. Elizabeth Alexander- Yale Professor and poet for Obama inauguration- I will read your poem on the Inauguration with interest. But you probably won't want my comments.
Our local radio station in Baltimore had a segment on such poetry this morning. I wrote them this in reply:
I write to comment on the Presidential poetry segment this am (1/20- WYPR in Baltimore). originally written to Tom Hall- copy to Mangan and Collier.
Frost's inauguration poem was embarrassingly imperialistic "The land was ours before we were the land's" showing no awareness of Native Americans!! Disgraceful.
Michael Collier mentioned Ms. Angelou's incomprehensibility- she of the stuffed shirt voice. And he was right.
Hopefully- Ms Alexander- you won't do something laughable.
One of the guests was also right to question doing things like this in the first place. Shows great ego, I'll admit. Poetry is the very antithesis of the state- especially modern poetry. Actually poetry has always run counter to cliches, high flown sentiments...you want the "lift of a driving dream?-- go to Hall Mark.
Now...maybe back in the days of Martial or Dryden- yes...but now? A poet might be able to write a poem and dedicate it to a President but to write one on the subject of his or her taking office?
Maybe humorous or light verse could be done.
I am a protestor poet, but I am aware that there can be acceptor poets and artists. Composers like Walton, even Britten maybe wrote coronation stuff.
Maybe Spender's poem "I think continually on the truly great" could be read verbatim- not that Obama is going to be great- I hope he will b. For that we have to wait.
I would offer an anti war poem if asked- for Obama is entering a military industrial state- far removed from King's dream. And that is why I wouldn't be asked. Homeland security would forbid real poetry.
I guess I could write a poem about hope- or read Emily Dickinson's- but to write a poem abt Barack Obama?
Dave Eberhardt (o so negative)
By the way- share this w the DNC and Barack so that they can know a bit about real poetry