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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Inaugural Poet Below Radar to Most

When President-elect Obama is sworn into office the nation will hear from a poet that few of us have even heard of. Elizabeth Alexander's Wikipedia bio is shot and clearly substantiates the argument that her recitation on January 20, 2009 of a poem written by her, especially for this occasion will constitute he 15 minutes of fame.

Alexander was born in Harlem, New York in 1962. She grew up in Washington, D.C. so the so she is no stranger to the nation's capital. She received a B.A from Yale University, an M.A from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. She currently teaches ay Yale.

Alexander is not without honors. Her fourth poetry book "American Sublime" was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize, and she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship as well as an Illinois Arts Council award.

Reading several of her poems today, I was not on the whole impressed. Of the ones I read, only Blues from her book, Body of Life struck my fancy. Of course I've not read but a half dozen of her poems, and she'll be writing one specifically for the occasion, so there is hope that in those few minuets she will shine. What I am most happy about is that Obama has again placed poetry in a prime time slot for America.

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