Friday, January 23, 2009

Poetry Friday - Praise Song for the Day

I am sure I won't be the only one to post Elizabeth Alexander's inauguration poem for today's Poetry Friday. I heard lots of complaints about it, but I think it's beautiful. Here's my favorite stanza:

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

And here's the rest of the poem.

Here's an article from a Minneapolis-St. Paul paper where local poets reflect on the effect of poetry at an event like the inauguration.

And I'm wondering, why have only Democratic presidents, so far, had poetry at their inaugurations? (Kennedy, Clinton twice, and now Obama.)

Here's today's Poetry Friday roundup.

8 comments:

jama said...

I don't know why so many are complaining. I agree with you -- I loved the poem. And I've also wondered why only Democrats like poems at inaugurations!

Tricia said...

I didn't know that the word poem is from the Greek for "a thing made" . I guess i need to go back to school!

I think it would be neat if there were a poem commissioned to respond to every report from the National Academy of Science. [mentioned in the Minn newspaper story] I've read a few of them, and a poem would cut to the heart of the matter...

And with that Robert Frost / JFK story: I heard a snippet about that on the TV station we were watching, only they said he had to recite one from memory because his written copy blew away - the newspaper story says he was blinded by the sun.

But anyway, to the original poem: I need to go read the text. I enjoyed listening to it, although with the squirmy kindergardeners around me it was hard to concentrate. I did feel like it got a bit long. One phrase that stuck with me was something about "spiny words and soft words" - we talked about what spiny words might be over dinner that night.

Are you using the poem in your classes at all?

TadMack said...

Thanks for the link. I posted elsewhere that since people generally only pay attention for limited (20 minutes) amounts of time, I drifted in and out of the whole inaugural process. I didn't get as much of her poem as I should, and I'm glad to read it. She shone...

Angela said...

I also loved the poem. I love that it is a tribute to words.

My favorite is:

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

And also:

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

Jessica said...

I loved it too!

Ruth said...

Tricia, I love it that this inspired dinner discussion! I bet Elizabeth Alexander would love that too!

Yes, I'm planning on reading it with my 8th graders next week. We'll see how it goes.

laurasalas said...

I thought the poem was lovely, but the impersonal reading of it made it sound like prose. I like it much more on the page than I did from her performance. Thanks for sharing!

Ruth said...

I still haven't heard the performance. I heard she didn't read it well. Perhaps she was nervous - and who could blame her? - but I also heard that lots of people got up to leave just as she stood up to read, and perhaps that threw her as well.