Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Literary Question

Joe Bilog who blogs here asked me this question: How did you feel about Elizabeth Alexander's poem and delivery of after Obama's speech?

First of all, I'm glad we're having this discussion about poetry. We certainly didn't have this when Bushy was around.

Since the question was raised, I'll discuss my opinion on Obama's choice of Ms. Alexander. I was wondering why he didn't choose Poet Laureate Kay Ryan. I mean, isn't that her job as Poet Laureate? To write for occasions like an inauguration? Besides, I thought it would have been a significant gesture for Ryan, a lesbian, to be on the same stage as homophobe Pastor Rick Warren. It would have added to Obama's inclusivity theme.

I didn't harp on Obama's choice of Alexander, assuming she would be amazing. She was...in a distant, academic sort of way. I believe most were perplexed by her work. This is unfortunate. One of the reasons poetry gets slammed is because most don't get it. (Go to Youtube and check out the comments) Personally, I wished she'd written something more accessible. I've always believed that one should think of her audience when penning anything.

Obama should have given the lesbian a chance.


Cheryl said...

I think Kay Ryan would have been a great choice, but I actually thought Elizabeth Alexander's poem was incredibly accessible--more so than other poems of hers I've heard, which, if anything, made it feel like she was using a voice that wasn't quite natural to her.

Nevertheless, there were certain lines I really dug, like "...built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of." Her images are meaty and allusive, and I think she hit a nice note of being hopeful while keeping dark history in mind.

Los Angelista said...

I thought the poem was alright...after I read it. Elizabeth Alexander's delivery was absolutely horrid and distracted me from her words. She sounded like a nervous, stilted elementary schooler. I agree that Kay Ryan would've been a nice choice. Since we re-did the oath, can we have a do-over that part too?