You call this a poem?

Obama resurrected the practice of commissioning a poem on his inauguration.  Elizabeth Alexander, the poet he selected, turned in a poem that suggests that the president should have let sleeping poets lie.  This is her second "verse":

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.

What drivel.   "All about us is noise", indeed.

1 comment:

  1. The boundaries of what is considered poetry have been stretched well beyond the breaking point for some time. I can deal with the absence of rhyme and even meter, but surely a poem should possess some sort of inherent rhythm, irregular though it might be.

    Having said that, there is some poetic imagery there: "noise and bramble, thorn and din". I thought she was going to expand on "all about us is noise" and make the poem a statement about the need to pause our busy lives every so often to take a look around and really see our world and the other people in it. But she abandoned that concept after the second "verse". FWIW, I do rather like the last line.

    If spoken with the right cadence, the poem might sound better than it reads. I don't know if it was the author's nervousness, her unfamiliarity with the public address system, or both, but she delivered it in a stilting, over-enuciated style that sapped it of all feeling and nuance.

    At least she was smart enough to have the words in front of her, instead of attempting to repeat it from memory like Chief Justice Roberts tried with the oath of office.