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20 January 2009


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nancy Simpson

I am a long time practicing poet. I'm used to hearing poetry. I was not disappointed.
Parts of the poem moved me. What irritates me no end is that the New York Times version, which is so far the only copy we have before us, does not honor line breaks.
I want to see the line breaks. Is that too much to ask?


Erik Eblana

I agree with Nancy Simpson, it's so important for publishers to honour line breaks and design.
Also, poems are there to be spoken, performd I guess, so perhaps Elizabeth Alexander was a little nervous (I'm always nervous reading my poems at a jam) or perhaps sheshine best with the written word -a lot of great poets are not great speakers/orators.



I was tempted to guess at the line breaks myself. The meter is quite strong, so it may be possible -- but I assume we'll have the poet's version soon. When we do, I'll post that.

I think, really, that this is a nearly unmeetable challenge, to write a poem for such an occasion. Especially following this speaker.


I found this at msnbc.com -- it is the publisher's version and so (I presume) includes the author's intended line breaks.


I don't think any more grandeur is called for; I like that the poem dignifies and elevates the ordinary. There's only one line that sniggles at me (what if the mightiest word is love?) because it feels ... I don't know, cheesy? When what comes before and after that line certainly aren't.... But that's just me. Overall I love the poem and think it suits the moment quite well. :-)


I've been pretty vocal in expressing my distaste for the poem. She included some great lines and good images, but I don't think it quite fit the occasion. She was up against a real challenge following the great oration of Obama, yes, but I don't think we can make excuses for poets ("she must've been nervous") without demeaning them and their work. Do we let Chief Justice Robert's slip-up in the oath slide because we think he may have been "nervous"? We can look back and see that Robert Frost and Maya Angelou did a great job with this rare opportunity for poetry to take a prominent role in our cultural life.


She's been nominated for Stuffed Owl II if it ever appears.

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