Thursday, January 22, 2009

Praise Song For the Day

Elizabeth Alexander recites "Praise Song for the Day: A poem for Barack Obama's Inauguration

The following is a transcript of the inaugural poem recited by Elizabeth Alexander, as provided by CQ transcriptions.

Praise song for the day.

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other,
catching each others' eyes or not,
about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise.
All about us is noise and bramble,
thorn and din,
each one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem,
darning a hole in a uniform,
patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky;
A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

We encounter each other in words,
words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed;
words to consider,

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

We need to find a place where we are safe;
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

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.

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

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."
Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love,
love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light.
Love with no need to preempt grievance.

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

On the brink,
on the brim,
on the cusp,
praise song for walking forward in that light.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Video of Elizabeth Alexander Reading Ars Poetica No.92 and No. 100

I love Elizabeth Alexander's Ars Poetica. I was looking for a video of her inaugural poem, but found this instead.

Elizabeth Alexander's 'Ars Poetica'

Notes from YouTube; - American poet Elizabeth Alexander reads two poems in the Jerwood Centre at Dove Cottage: 'Ars Poetica #92: Marcus Garvey on Elocution' and 'Ars Poetica #100: I Believe' from American Blue: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2006).

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

I think the above poem fits well for today.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Just The Facts: Understanding Literature - The Elements of Poetry

Just The Facts:
Understanding Literature
The Elements of Poetry
Just The Facts: Understanding Literature - The Elements of Poetry
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DVD Description - Just the Facts: Understanding Literature presents an innovative, lively, and contemporary approach to understanding the basic elements of fiction, drama, and poetry and fostering an appreciation of literature. In each program, a young host and hostess guide viewers through the basic elements of each genre with colorful graphics and an informative narrative from English professors. Question-and-answer sections throughout the programs reinforce the concepts presented. Just the Facts: Understanding Literature offers a unique learning experience and an effective teaching tool. The Elements of Poetry Figurative language, meter and rhyme, simile, and metaphor -- these are a few of the many topics explored in this lively video tour through the genre of poetry. Other elements illustrated in the program include: Oxymoron Assonance Alliteration Imagery Understatement Hyperbole And more... A young host and hostess guide viewers through the basic elements of poetry with colorful graphics and an informative narrative. In addition, professors of English provide insight to help viewers understand poetry. An interactive component of multiple choice questions reinforces concepts presented in the program and enhances understanding of the basic elements of poetry.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at flickr

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

According to dbking @flickr ;
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) was an American poet whose works include Paul Revere's Ride, A Psalm of Life, The Song of Hiawatha and Evangeline. He also wrote the first American translation of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy and was one of the five members of the group known as the Fireside Poets. Longfellow was born and raised in the Portland, Maine area. He attended university at an early age at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. After several journeys overseas, Longfellow settled for the last forty-five years of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a wood frame house once occupied during the American Revolution by General George Washington and his staff.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

NPR post Inauguration Day — Hooray, Hooray! by Calvin Trillin

NPR's All Things Considered commissions poets to write a poem commerating Brack Obama's Inauguration. You can read and listen to the poem here >>> Anticipating The Inauguration Of Barack Obama.

Calvin Trillin wrote Deciding the Next Decider: The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme. He also writes The Nation's "Deadline Poet" column.


Deciding the Next Decider:
The 2008 Presidential Race in Rhyme

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