Poet Elizabeth Alexander has been selected to write a poem and read it at the inauguration of President Obama. As the Washington Post and other publications note, Alexander’s only the fourth poet to read at an inauguration. The first was Robert Frost–at JFK’s inaugural celebration. Frost had written the poem “Dedication” for the event and tried to read it, but sunlight bouncing off ice in D.C. created such a ferocious glare on the page that Frost, then in his eighties, couldn’t the page, so he improvised by reciting “The Gift Outright” from memory. It may have been one of the great ad-libs under pressure in American history.
Maya Angelou and Miller Williams read at President Clinton’s first and second inaugurations, respectively.
Alexander (pictured below) is the author of American Sublime, among other works, and she teaches at Harvard.
A link to the Washington Post article: