January 21, 2009

Any praise for "Praise Song for the Day," the inaugural poem by Elizabeth Alexander?

In TNR Adam Kirsch says:
Alexander was an inevitable choice to be Obama's laureate. Like Obama, Alexander is an establishment figure-a professor at Yale, a Pulitzer Prize finalist--who is very conscious of the ways she does not fit the usual establishment image--she is a black woman in a field once dominated by white men. Like him, too, she has challenged the establishment by joining it, rather than fighting it....

But poetry is a matter of having your own words, not of having words for others; and the weakness of Alexander's work is precisely its consciousness of obligation. Her poetic superego leads her to affirm piously, rather than question or challenge. This weakness is precisely what made her a perfect, an all too perfect, choice for inaugural poet....

[I]t was no surprise to hear Alexander begin her poem today with a cliché ("Each day we go about our business"), before going on to tell the nation "I know there's something better down the road"; and pose the knotty question, "What if the mightiest word is ‘love'?"; and conclude with a classic instance of elegant variation: "on the brink, on the brim, on the cusp." The poem's argument was as hard to remember as its language; it dissolved at once into the circumambient solemnity. Alexander has reminded us... that the poet's place is not on the platform but in the crowd, that she should speak not for the people but to them.
So the whole idea of an inaugural poem is bad because a poet must be a rebel artist? Or was it just the combination of the inaugural platform and the choice of a poet by paper credentials and diversity factors that have nothing to do with whether the person can transport the throng with spoken word?

Yesterday, live-blogging since 6:04 a.m., I abruptly shut the television off after a few lines of the poem. I'd put up with a lot of talking heads blathering, crowds of people standing or walking around, dignitaries getting in and out of cars, but I couldn't put up with that.
12:28: "Someone is stitching up a hem"... someone is inflicting poetry on us.
That was it for me. In the comments, Amba said:
I really wish they had had the balls to choose a rapper to deliver the inaugural poem. It took me a long time to get used to it, but now I think rap is where the living poetry's gone. (Only 2 decades late, me. LOL.) Of course a lot of it's bad or gross, but some of it is really, really good, forceful and inventive. I don't know rappers well enough to say who it should have been, but imagine -- it could've been memorable.
I agreed. This — not something from Yale — is the poetry real people — in crowds — listen to today. It would have been exciting, surprising. It would have thrilled us or at least amused us with humorous rhymes. We did get the Reverend Joseph Lowery inserting a little, very simple, rap-like poetry into his benediction:
when black will not be asked to get in back
when brown can stick around
when yellow will be mellow
when the red man can get ahead, man
and when white will embrace what is right
But those weren't startling rhymes. We were just startled to hear them in a prayer.

Now, Rush Limbaugh thought Lowery and Alexander were the highlight of the inauguration. Surely, Lowery's poem-within-a-prayer was the most memorable thing we heard yesterday, but how could that thudding poem have delighted him?
ALEXANDER: Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each other's 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.

RUSH: Boom box? Boom box at a presidential inauguration? Snerdley, this is not torture. This is not torture. This is hilarious. Somebody, somewhere, thought this was exceptional. You have to understand, somebody thought that this was brilliant. It's a code. I don't understand it. [ADDED: At this point Rush adopts Alexander's serious- academic reading style.] Today there's a street outside. On that street are cars. And in those cars are people with music on their iPods. And they listen. And the children in the back of the car, who are also on the road, may or may not be in their child safety seats, in which case the driver will be arrested and the child taken away. When the car gets to its destination, it may run out of gas. If it runs out of gas, it's obviously a gas guzzler, and if it's a gas guzzler, then we need to harness the energy of the sun and punish the SOB driving the gas guzzler. If the car gets to its destination with plenty of gas left in the tank, we give it a bonus of additional markers at Walmart for the day after Christmas, which is how today was planned. And after we go to Walmart and pick up some of the lead paint that is made with our children in mind, imported from China, we will then have a meeting with the Iranians, who will love us, and they will get in their car, will also be on their road, and their road shall never end until they have nuclear weapons. I'm sorry. If I can do it, it isn't art. Here. We got another bite.

ALEXANDER: 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, reconsider. 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."

RUSH: And when we get to the end of the road, with the person driving the guzzler, with the perhaps or not perhaps child safety seats in the back, we will then know the answer to the question, which came first, the chicken or the egg? And why did the egg cross the road to see something better down the road. But could the egg have crossed the road without the chicken? These are depth questions. And only President Obama has the answers. Cookie, get me more of this. Two sound bites from Elizabeth Alexander are simply not enough. Get me more.
Ha ha. That was the funniest thing I heard all day yesterday. Don't you think more than half of the people listening to Alexander read her poem started thinking: Why did the chicken cross the road?

128 comments:

Doyle said...

I really wish they had had the balls to choose a rapper to deliver the inaugural poem.

Wow. That's really, really stupid.

Eli Blake said...

Wow. That's really, really stupid

So is Rush.

author, etc. said...

The poem, if it had any chance of succeeding, should have ended with "take out your pencils. Begin." I liked that image. But from there? "Pedestrian" would be the scholarly description, "lumpier than a sack of old doorknobs" would be mine.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Obama must have united us because I actually agree with Doyle.

Rap is the cancer of the music industry.

Jason said...

Sounded like a weak imitation of Walt Whitman, to me.

Actually, Whitman had another presidential association about 11 years ago. I can't remember exactly what it was, though.

Jason said...

I was thinking something more along the lines of The Congo, by Vachel Lindsay.

Windbag said...

Now, then, who are the racists? Obama will set back race relations at least 30 years.

pduggie said...

I thought this was interesting:


John Derbyshire was not enthralled with Elisabeth Alexander's inaugural poem, calling out the line

"love with no need to pre-empt grievance"

as confused and difficult to interpret. Derb hazards a guess

"To pre-empt" means "to seize upon to the exclusion of others: take for oneself: appropriate" (Webster's Third). So this kind of love, unlike other kinds of love, has no need to seize upon grievance and take it for itself, leaving no part of grievance over for any other love. Which kinds of love do do the thing that this kind has no need to do?

I think she rather intends the opposite.

As in: There are certain kinds of love, probably most "loves," that expect you to put your greivances aside and live together. To "pre-empt grievance" is for love to exclude greivance because love is taking up all emotional resources.

Alexander, to the contrary, wants a love that includes and makes room for her grievances.

Apparently I'm not the only one who interprets it that way, though. For example, Rinku Sen is more sanguine about the idea.

Preempting grievance means that from the beginning, there’s an understanding, spoken or tacit, that we will not speak of any harm, we will not express affront. We must not reproach, complain or resist. This is the kind of love that undergirds abusive marriages and secretive families. It gives birth to miserably tense holidays in which we carry ourselves so rigidly that we can’t eat, laugh or play tag football. This kind of non-love isn’t just a private thing.

So remember: love doesn't bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things.

Love keeps a record of wrongs.

Palladian said...

Poetry has meter and rhyme. This "poem" was like so many other bad academic poems a structure-free collection of unlovely and unimaginative banalities lacking even a single specific, memorable image or original observation or philosophical proposition. It would have felt dull, plodding and trite at a public high school commencement ceremony. So it was the perfect choice for Obama's inauguration. The poetry was in choosing it to represent the Obama administration, not in the actual words. If Obama had read it, it would be chiseled in marble by the end of the century.

Host with the Most said...

Instead of the poem, I wish there had been a Massive Diversity sing-a-long to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".

Bissage said...

This — not something from Yale — is the poetry real people — in crowds — listen to today.

Politics is the art of compromise.

The inaugural rap should have been laid down by Professor Cornel West.

Christy said...

Have there been any good inagural poems?

Christy said...

inaugural, sorry

David said...

Here's what I wrote on yesterday's post. My view has not changed.

A poem:\\

Bad start. Trite. Not very poetic.

A lot of poets (not very good poets) could write this.

Poetry has to get beyond self-consciousness and thoughts of the reader's reaction--the paradox of poetry. Impossible to do with an inaugural poem.

Bad idea generally.

Let's not have any more of these. Please.

It's still going on . . . .

Rose said...

I want to wish the man well. I don't want to notice that he makes these bad decisions. But the appointing himself to Lincoln status, the pretentiousness of the whole thing has gone so far over the top, by his own hand, promoting himself that it has become ludicrous.

A misstep like a bad poet I could take, It could be expected and forgiven. The rest can't.

garage mahal said...

I thought Obama should have brought Mitt Romney out to do another impromptu "Who let the dogs out" at the ceremony. That was awesome.

Rich B said...

The love talk reminded me of 1. Corinthians 13:1-13 (which BHO also quoted):

If I speak in human and angelic tongues 2 but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
2
And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.
3
If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4
3 Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated,
5
it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
6
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
7
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8
4 Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
9
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
10
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
11
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
12
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
13
5 So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

These passages are commonly read at Catholic weddings. They are worth keeping in mind (especially if you have been married for a while).

Palladian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Palladian said...

"I really wish they had had the balls to choose a rapper to deliver the inaugural poem."

Poetry is not about having balls. This perpetuates the artist-as-rebellious (male) cliche.

"It took me a long time to get used to it, but now I think rap is where the living poetry's gone. (Only 2 decades late, me. LOL.)"

It only took 2 decades to erode people's sensitivities and standards enough that they finally, exhausted, submitted to coarseness.

"Of course a lot of it's bad or gross, but some of it is really, really good, forceful and inventive."

That's probably true.

"I don't know rappers well enough to say who it should have been, but imagine -- it could've been memorable."

I agree that it would have been better than this Elizabeth Alexander nonsense, at least as far as entertainment goes, but it wouldn't have so perfectly summarized the vapid banality of the nascent Obama administration.

"This — not something from Yale — is the poetry real people — in crowds — listen to today."

Art used to lead educated society, not be lead by the rabble. But today we're more interested in keepin' it real than keepin' it good.

And what people listen to today is what they've always listened to: low ballads. But poetry and balladry are not necessarily the same thing.

"It would have been exciting, surprising. It would have thrilled us or at least amused us with humorous rhymes."

I agree, it would have been more entertaining than Elizabeth Alexander, but it would have been completely out of character for Obama. Obama has only one mode: non-threatening pseudo-academic banality.

Glen said...

If we need

"love with no need to pre-empt grievance"

Do we also need?

"grievance with no need to pre-empt love"

David said...

It's just bad poetry, folks. Trite, derivative, predictable, lacking music, energy or charm.

As much as anything, this is a commentary on Yale.

Does Obama know that this is terrible poetry?

God, I hope so.

Ann Althouse said...

You have to picture the right rapper, people! (Talk about "really, really, stupid.") If you've just got a big stereotype in your head, then you will be incapable of understanding Amba's point.

Meade said...

" Don't you think more than half of the people listening to Alexander read her poem started thinking: Why did the chicken cross the road?"

Actually, the arc of my free association went something like this:

Why did the chicken cross the road?--- RHHardin--- I wonder how RH's chickens are doing in these frigid temperatures---cold egg salad---cold egg salad sandwich---poetry in e motion al althouse---(and the rest is private).

And then I too turned off CNN and went back to work with idle thoughts about what a couple of humorless pricks Doyle and Eli Blake are.

john said...

Christy - someone said yesterday that Robert Frost delivered an excellent inaugural poem, but it wasn't the one he brought that day.

This poem seriously fucking reeked.

The Crack Emcee said...

Of course, I should have been the rapper, sending the message to our enemies.

Look - being serious - I shut off the sound when I heard her say "someone is changing a tire" or "fixing a flat" or something. It just didn't have the granduer (sp?) the day called for. (The whole inauguration ceremony was low rent, actually.) Both Alexander and Obama write bad poetry, so this comes as no surprise. Nothing Obama has said, since his original Democratic convention speech, has moved me.

As far as poetry goes, it's supposed to open our minds and emotions - not necessarily be the voice of the rebel - but all certain people, lacking in imagination, can shoot for is either a Hallmark card eloquence (Alexander) or thinking they're at the demolition derby of a Poetry Slam.

I know I'm beating a dead horse here but (kicking that nag again) NewAge cultism (or PC group think, if you like) has us lacking in imagination. That's why so many artists today rely on sex, etc., in pop culture. (Madonna anyone?) I've done many posts on this subject.

Art is supposed to be about breaking the mold but too many just want to fit in it.

Palladian said...

"Art is supposed to be about breaking the mold but too many just want to fit in it."

I always like to think that art is about creating something so entirely appealing and new that everyone throws the old mold away, gets out the plaster and starts making a new mold.

Then someone, fifty or a hundred years hence, discovers the old mold at a rummage sale, buys it for a quarter, brings it home and starts casting new positives in it again. Then everybody loves them, starts making molds of the newly cast positives and quickly the original detailing gets lost, the inferior casts made from molds of casts of molds of casts start getting overproduced and flooding the market but by this time no one remembers what a crisp cast from a good mold looks like and so they go out and elect Barack Obama.

Or something like that.

Palladian said...

Hey, I just realized what would have been the perfect inauguration poetry experience for yesterday! When it came time for the poem, an Audio-Anamatronic Lincoln, like the one from Disney's Hall of Presidents should have risen up from behind the podium and delivered "The Gettysburg Address".

Hoosier Daddy said...

But the appointing himself to Lincoln status, the pretentiousness of the whole thing has gone so far over the top, by his own hand, promoting himself that it has become ludicrous.

Well it's ludicrous that our first African-American president wants to model himself after a former President who despite believing slavery to be evil, nevertheless never held the view that white and black could ever assimilate. In fact, Lincoln favored deporting the black population back to Africa.

I consider Lincoln great because he preserved the Union, indeed, by methods which Obama and his followers would decry as fascist. I'll wager that Obama's knowledge of Lincoln is about the same as most 5th graders. He preserved the Union and freed the slaves and gave a fine speech at Gettysburg.

Maybe Katie Couric can ask if Obama ever read any of the Lincoln Douglass debates. Assuming she can control herself in his presence.

Glen said...

"You have to picture the right rapper, people! (Talk about "really, really, stupid.") If you've just got a big stereotype in your head, then you will be incapable of understanding Amba's point.

Really? We are incapable? Let Amba provide some examples of that so-called vital rap that rises to inaugural-level worthiness. Let us examine the lyrics and see if we are "incapable" -- or if we just differ. Let us examine this new and more relevant poetry and discuss if it's more inclusive for the nation's inaugural than say, a Rick Warren invocation.

Christy said...

At "patching a tire" my mind wandered to the country song "The Chain of Love" by Clay Walker.

He was driving home one evening,
In his beat up Pontiac
When an old lady flagged him down,
Her Mercedes had a flat
He could see that she was frightened,
Standing out there in the snow
'Til he said I'm here to help you ma'am,
By the way my name is Joe

She said I'm from St. Louis,
And I'm only passing through
I must have seen a hundred cars go by,
This is awful nice of you
When he changed the tire,
And closed her trunk
And was about to drive away,
She said how much do I owe you
Here's what he had to say

You don't owe me a thing, I've been there too
Someone once helped me out,
Just the way I'm helping you
If you really want to pay me back,
Here's what you do
Don't let the chain of love end with you

Well a few miles down the road,
The lady saw a small cafe
She went in to grab a bite to eat,
And then be on her way
But she couldn't help but notice,
How the waitress smiled so sweet
And how she must've been eight months along,
And dead on her feet

And though she didn't know her story,
And she probably never will
When the waitress went to get her change,
From a hundred dollar bill
The lady slipped right out the door,
And on a napkin left a note
There were tears in the waitress's eyes,
When she read what she wrote

You don't owe me a thing,
I've been there too
Someone once helped me out,
Just the way I'm helping you
If you really want to pay me back,
Here's what you do
Don't let the chain of love end with you

That night when she got home from work,
The waitress climbed into bed
She was thinkin' about the money,
And what the lady's note had said
As her husband lay there sleeping,
She whispered soft and low
Everything's gonna be alright, I love you, Joe

Palladian said...

"someone said yesterday that Robert Frost delivered an excellent inaugural poem,"

Robert Frost could write a better inaugural poem today than Elizabeth Alexander.

Nichevo said...

MC 900 Foot Jesus would have killed. (Oh, but he's white, I think.)



That, or dig up Ogden Nash. "A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor" would have fit in nicely. Oh - also white.

E.A. Robinson was black, right? How about "Richard Corey?"

That, or pick a modern with TALENT pleez! This woman makes banal look avant-garde. Also, I had no idea she was black, from hearing her voice. (I don't know if that's good, bad, or relevant.)

Patm said...

I swear to God, when I listened to that inane drivel, I thought: this could be on Sesame Street.

And she read it so poorly; as though it was, indeed, Sesame Street, and we were the stupid children learning about life from THAT.

The Crack Emcee said...

Glen,

"Really? We are incapable? Let Amba provide some examples of that so-called vital rap that rises to inaugural-level worthiness. Let us examine the lyrics and see if we are "incapable" -- or if we just differ. Let us examine this new and more relevant poetry and discuss if it's more inclusive for the nation's inaugural than say, a Rick Warren invocation."

Don't get me started on all the wonderful, potent, and overlooked rap music out there. I'll let Amba defend herself but I could do it - easily.

SteveR said...

1. The idea of a poet for the inauguration (at 25 degrees!) is stupid. Regardless

2. Calling Rush Limbaugh stupid is stupid. Calling him an arrogant, mean, asshole is ok, but he's not stupid.

3. Amba called for the rapper, so she's stupid? I don't think so.

The Crack Emcee said...

Nichevo,

"MC 900 Foot Jesus would have killed. (Oh, but he's white, I think.)"

Yea, he is. I met him, too. Nice guy. Is anybody listening to the music on my site?

onparkstreet said...

A few months back, after a bad day at work, I stopped by a bookstore thinking I would buy some poetry. I have no idea why, I don't really read poetry, but it seemed a good idea after my bad day. I imagined books filled with pretty things, lovely things, flights of fancy and pictures painted with words.

I picked up one of those BEST AMERICAN WHATEVER of 2008 books.

The poems did not even rhyme. For twenty bucks, the poems could have rhymed, right?

It was mostly prose-y short story-ish paragraphs and a lot of it was very anguished and political. I didn't buy the book. I went home and watched Seinfeld.

I'm thinking of writing and submitting some poetry to an e-zine. I'll let you know how it goes.

Patm said...

Rich B - that famous passage from 1 Corinthians - now THAT'S poetry.

Ralph said...

My sister lived with a poet/security guard/driver for much of the 90's. He would have been even worse, and smelt bad too.

The Crack Emcee said...

SteveR,

"Calling Rush Limbaugh stupid is stupid. Calling him an arrogant, mean, asshole is ok, but he's not stupid."

Dude, you don't get the joke at-all,...

Freeman Hunt said...

Is there a rule that you have to use a current poet? What if you especially liked certain poems but they were old and the poets were dead? Could you get an excellent reader of poetry to deliver them instead of using a current poet?

Lynne said...

I wish some future president would pass a law forbidding poets to ever read their own work in public. With the possible exception of Frost, they uniformly AWFUL at reading aloud. They all seem to sing-song their words in exactly the same way, too. Marge Piercy reads her own work in the exact same pitch and cadence as this poet. They all end up sounding like the goofy vicar in The Princess Bride ("mawwage, duh dweam widin a dweem..") and never fail to drive me from the room in just a word or two.
Can't we just read for ourselves?

Freeman Hunt said...

I picked up one of those BEST AMERICAN WHATEVER of 2008 books.

Ha! I've done the exact same thing several times and have never ended up buying the book. "This is the best we have from 2008? Really?"

Ralph said...

I Corinthians sounds better with "charity" instead of "love" and "give my body to be burned."

Eugene said...

Presidential inaugurals should follow the example of the Japanese Emperor and allow only waka-style poetry. The poems (here and here) are short, topical, and comprehensible.

Granted, when the poems are formally read aloud, they are orated in a classical style that is incomprehensible to my ears. But the text is helpfully displayed on the television screen.

And while we're at it, the Emperor's State of the Japanese Union address runs (in English) a whole 180 words. Another good example to follow.

The Crack Emcee said...

Lynne,

"They all seem to sing-song their words in exactly the same way"

That's the Poetry Slam influence.

There are few poets that are really good anymore. I dug that recent poet - can't remember his name - who plucked genius out of ordinary things, like making a cup of tea. I wish I could remember his name!

When I was a kid, Charles Bukowski ripped me out of my world with "Love is a dog from Hell." Couldn't stand his novels, but his poetry was good for a long time.

Smilin' Jack said...

Palladian said...
...it was the perfect choice for Obama's inauguration.The poetry was in choosing it to represent the Obama administration, not in the actual words.


Hee--yes, looked at from a higher level of abstraction, it becomes a sublime piece of "performance art." Althouse may be right, though--a rapper chanting moronic doggerel to a monotonous beat could have achieved the same effect, and would have been more "inclusive."

Katherine Harms said...

I fought to keep myself from dozing off during the pseudo-poetic reading of the inaugural poem. When my child was six years old, she wrote a better poem than that one, and she read it expressively. Maybe Obama should have asked a first-grader, or maybe even a fifth-grader, to write a poem and read it for him.

bearbee said...

Sounded like a weak imitation of Walt Whitman, to me.

Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.

Sounds more like Muhammad Ali

First rapper?

Glen said...

Crack Emcee said:
"Glen ... Don't get me started on all the wonderful, potent, and overlooked rap music out there. I'll let Amba defend herself but I could do it - easily."

One issue here was Ann's characterization that we are incapable. Not that we may differ in our estimation of rap, but that we are incapable of estimating it properly. On another level, if you have examples of rap that might rise to the level of "inaugural worthy" then provide them. Don't forget to give us those "all-important" inclusive examples. Expose us to them and let us discuss their potential.

Or shut the fuck up.

dannyboy said...

I dug that recent poet - can't remember his name - who plucked genius out of ordinary things, like making a cup of tea. I wish I could remember his name!

Dr. Seuss?

PatCA said...

Official poetry is pretty obtuse and bland these days, so why not skip it? This is not ancient Greece, where poetry was part of the culture. If they must, why not have a contest for kids and have the winner read it?

raf said...

"when brown can stick around
when yellow will be mellow"

Well, this certainly opened my eyes, enhanced my conciousness and raised the level of my ... whatever.

I never truly appreciated the innate racism of "if it's yellow, let it mellow; if it's brown, flush it down" before.

The Crack Emcee said...

Folks,

"A rapper chanting moronic doggerel to a monotonous beat could have achieved the same effect,.."

Please stop knocking rap music. Just because the more cerebral stuff doesn't get played doesn't mean it's worthless. Granted - a lot of it is - but the cool thing about rap is everything - all ideas - are welcome. Support the smarter recordings and people would make more. You just have to go deeper than the obvious.

Michael H said...

A reading from Dr. Seuss would have been just fine, and probably made more sense, what with all those Star Bellied Sneetches in the audience.

Meade said...

Part of the problem with the whole inaugural poetry reading is that any artist worth his salt would never lend his work to the political causes of others. It invariably cheapens the work and makes the artist appear to be a tool.

Michael H said...

Or perhaps Shel Silverstein.

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Meade said...

Just saw this:

"current poet? What if you especially liked certain poems but they were old and the poets were dead? Could you get an excellent reader of poetry to deliver them instead of using a current poet?"

I think Freeman gets it.

TitusHangTheBloodyDJ said...

I hated the poem. I shut it off too. Too painful.

Rush is fat, ugly, a drug head, hypocrite and gross and as a result can not be taken seriously. Maybe he is a great entertainer but look at that face and body? It is just downright grotesque. Could you imagine what he looks like nude? What about that hog? You know he has to lift up a huge swath of blubber to even expose it to daylight. Nasty and despicable. I bet his hog is a little thumbnail with like one or two long pubic hairs hanging down past the hog. Fatties always only have a few pubes. You know he has some nasty stretch marks and cellulite around his ass and upper legs-mmmm, pretty. And what about that ass of his? That thing is fucking huge. Nothing uglier on a man than a fat ass.

sonicfrog said...

When I listened to that ... poem, or whatever passes for poetry these days, all I could think of was this lyric from a Kevin Gilbert song called "Fun" (Simon probably knows it):

Lenny’s got horse and Nigel’s got hash,
I got a lot of dispensable cash
Go downtown in my limousine
Gonna find some young hookers we can treat real mean

There’s plenty of drugs ‘n’ plenty of beer
To drown out the whine of self loathing and fear
We’re listening to tapes of Gladys Knight and the Pips
I’m lickin’ my teeth I’m lickin’ my lips

It’s fun, yeah it’s a real good time tonight all right

Arsenio’s here and he’s all fucked up
And he’s with some chick that just won’t shut up
Julian’s suckin’ hard on a bottle of Jack
That he got with a hand job off a girl out back

I’m talking to this actress behind the bar
She thinks Leo DiCappria’s gonna make her a star
So she answers his phone, washes his car
Soils his sheets, yeah, she’ll go far

Cause she’s fun, she’s a real good time tonight all right

Now the bar is closing for the regular folk
But there’s an escort to the VIP lounge brandishing coke
And we all could use another line or two
‘Cause there’s still gossip to tell and slander to spew (no shit, I didn’t know that)  

So we’re moving this party back to my place
‘Cause Richard’s got a friend who’s bringing base
And we’re gonna play the new Madonna where she rips a fart
And then stand around talking about why it’s art

It’s fun, It’s a real good time tonight all right

C’mon it’s fun, It’s a real good time...

TitusHangTheBloodyDJ said...

What about Rush Limbaugh fucking? Just picture it. The poor victim that has to see that thing mounting her. He disrobes and unveils the girth. Everything is sagging, dropping, doughy, pale white, soft, tits are like pancakes, ass is huge, you can't even see the hog because of the massive fat over it.

It would be like getting plowed by fat bastard. All that fat jiggling and bouncing as the little hog is barely penetrating the poor victims vagina. Huge man titties flying all over the bed. An ass that could eat your entire body. Fat stubby arms with no definition whatsoever. Fat little ompa loompa legs. A stomach that goes on forever. Stretch marks everywhere. Him sweating, panting, out of breath. Him taking his dick enlargement pills as the little hog grows one whole inch. Throwing his man tits over his shoulder as he is pounding the victim. And then when he cums it is totally anticlimatic. Just one little drop squeezing out of the tiny head of the tiny hog.

God Bless the woman that can endure that torture.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Titus obviously hasn't had his morning loaf yet.
He gets cranky when he's backed up.

Meade said...

Titus,
You do realize you are disrespecting someone Althouse likes and admires, don't you?

Meade said...

Maybe Titus, Doyle, and Eli can form a ménage.

Freeman Hunt said...

Did Miller Williams do a good job at Clinton's inaugural? I don't know what he read. I've seen him read poetry in person, and I remember him being good, but those memories are from back when I was a teenager, and I don't trust my teenage judgement.

holdfast said...

I found the poem to be very uniting - Democrats, Republicans and others - we were all rolling their eyes and laughing at how bad it was.

Trooper York said...

This here's a tale for all the fellas
Try to do what those ladies tell us
Get shot down cause you're over zealous
Play hard to get an females get jealous
Ok smartie, go to a party
Girls are stancin the crowd is showin body
A chick walks by you wish you could sex her
But you're standin on the wall like you was Poindexter
Next days function, high class luncheon
Food is served and you're stone cold munchin'
Music comes on, people start to dance
But then you ate so much you nearly split your pants
A girl starts walkin, guys start gawkin'
Sits down next to you and starts talkin'
Says she wanna dance cus she likes the groove
So come on fatso and just bust a move

You're on a mission and you're wishin'
someone could cure you're lonely condition
You're lookin for love in all the wrong places
Not fine girls just ugly faces
From frustration first inclination
Is to become a monk and leave the situation
But every dark tunnel has a lighter hope
So don't hang yourself with a celibate rope
New movie's showin... so you're goin
Could care less about the five you're blowin
Theatre gets dark just to start the show
When you spot a fine woman sittin in the front row
She's dressed in yellow, she says "Hello,
Come sit next to me you fine fellow"
You run over there without a second to loose
And what comes next, hey bust a move

If you want it baby you've got it (repeat)
Just bust a move

In the city ladies look pretty
Guys tell jokes so they can seem witty
Tell a funny joke just to get some play
Then you try to make a move and she says "no way"
Girls a fakin' ... goodness sakin'
They want a man who brings home the bacon
Got no money and you got no car
Then you got no woman and there you are
Some girls are sophistic... materialistic
Looking for a man makes them opportunistic
They're lyin on the beach perpetratin a tan
So that a brother with money can be their man
So on the beach you're strollin'... real high-rollin'
Everything you have is your's and not stolen
A girl runs up with somethin to prove
So don't just stand there, bust a move

(break down)

Your best friend Harry has a brother Larry
In five days from now he's gonna marry
He's hopin you can make it there if you can
'Cause in the ceremony you'll be the best man
You say "neato"... check your libido
And roll to the church in your new tuxedo
The bride walks down just to start the wedding
And there's one more girl you won't be getting
So you start thinkin, then you start blinkin
A bride maid looks and thinks that you're winkin
She thinks you're kinda cute so she winks back
And now you're feelin really fine cus the girl is stacked
Reception's jumpin, bass is pumpin
Look at the girl and your heart starts thumpin
Says she wants to dance to a different groove
Now you know what to do g, bust a move

Trooper York said...

Sorry Crack Emcee, I'm old school.

Nichevo said...

Blogger The Crack Emcee said...

Nichevo,

"MC 900 Foot Jesus would have killed. (Oh, but he's white, I think.)"

Yea, he is. I met him, too. Nice guy. Is anybody listening to the music on my site?
10:47 AM


Damn you sir! I just spent an hour on Youtube going thru Fatboy Slim videos! I've always thought his music would be spot-on for a high-speed attack run at treetop level. Some of it is, some of it isn't...

PE I grew up on, have half-a-dozen of their albums...can't remember ANYTHING that sounds even remotely cheery or happy or upbeat or optimistic from them, so IMHO out for an inauguration. Loury^nth power.

Your dead prez: ok, but my attention faded in and out. Not that interested in the subject matter maybe, sorry. Genteel notions of sexuality for those who have that stereotype, genteel overall, but it doesn't stick in my head. Ice-T, Ice Cube, PE, MC 900, even Eminem at least I can sing along with.

Then again what do you want out of rap? My Harvard interviewer played some for me when I told her I didn't listen to it because it was unmusical - sure enough she had some that was decent to listen to - one PE and one...something about My Nine, can't recall...not My Uzi Weighs A Ton, somebody else...this would be '88, '89...

Um, Dead Prez as fit for Obama? I dunno. What could be worse than the poetess they had? Listening to DP again for your sake. (Note: People should post lyrics on Youtube.)

Um, OK. It ain't 2 Live Crew if that's your point. Let me listen to more...

No, he lost me halfway through "Propaganda;" maybe I would like it better if I agreed with the viewpoint. "Police State" was no better. Now I am just getting the idea these are criminals who resent having been caught and punished.

What can I tell ya, Cracky, I tried.


T.S. Eliot? The Waste Land? "I'll show you fear in a handful of dust"

http://www.bartleby.com/201/1.html



W.H. Auden, September 1, 1939 - I liked this for Bush in 2001; I suppose the usual suspects might like it for Obama:

http://www.johnharle.com/philosophy/articles-philosophy/WHAuden.html

September 1, 1939
W. H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
"I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,"
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the deaf,
Who can speak for the dumb?


All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.



From Another Time by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1940 W. H. Auden, renewed by The Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.




And that cunt was allowed to get up on her hind legs and read off a cereal box to the American people and have it called poetry!

vbspurs said...

Ann wrote:

You have to picture the right rapper, people! (Talk about "really, really, stupid.") If you've just got a big stereotype in your head, then you will be incapable of understanding Amba's point.

President Obama could've chosen The Beastie Boys (my favourite rappers) or LL Cool J, who is far more a gentleman than P. Diddy ever will be. Also, my black friend tells me that Will Smith's rap songs are unusually deep and startling meaningful, though I'm presuming not the Fresh Prince one.

I am beginning to see the Amba light. It would've been unusual, in a positive way.

Nichevo said...

Damn you Troop. Young MC was my very first thought!

Nichevo said...

Oh, the Beastie Boys are illin' too, but I think the consensus is that we have to go with a black artist. I think that ship had sailed.

Langston Hughes? It's not like black people CAN'T write!

SteveR said...

Crack Emcee: Don't call me "dude", dude.

Eli Blake's comment (second in thread) in response to Doyle's comment (first in thread) said Rush is stupid. How long have you been reading comments by Doyle and Eli Blake? There's no joke to get, dude.

Nichevo said...

BTW on MC 900 - has he retired? Haven't heard anything from him in a while - since One Step Ahead of the Spider, I think. He only put out three or was it four albums?

garage mahal said...

Maybe Titus, Doyle, and Eli can form a ménage

Or, a Garage a Trois? See a true Ace Commenter worthy of front page status would have........oh nevermind.

Too many jims said...

Glen,

Prof. Althouse said: "If you've just got a big stereotype in your head, then you will be incapable of understanding Amba's point." She is not saying that you are incapable of understanding Amba's point unless you just have a big stereotype in your head. Since I doubt you will concede that you were speaking based on a stereotype, she is not calling you incapable.

chickenlittle said...

I think Obama's effect on the future of hip-hop (if any) will be interesting.

Most of my heroes don't appear on no stamps

Leland said...

If you've just got a big stereotype in your head, then you will be incapable of understanding Amba's point.

You are suggesting a level of depth that Doyle has never shown. So yes, Doyle is incapable of understanding Amba's point.

Personally, I thought the need for an inaugural poet was unnecessary when Aretha Franklin is on the stage. I must admit, the pagentry stuff I muted, so I didn't hear Aretha sing or Elizabeth drone on. I initially tuned out the John Williams piece, but then listened to a bit more and liked it.

Still, save a few million taxpayer dollars and skip the artist. Better yet, try a rehearsal of the actual inauguration requirement, the oath of office. Agree with yesterday's remark, the flub was the Chief Justice, but one wonders if they even practiced it once.

Too many jims said...

Nichevo said...
My Harvard interviewer played some for me when I told her I didn't listen to it because it was unmusical - sure enough she had some that was decent to listen to - one PE and one...something about My Nine, can't recall...not My Uzi Weighs A Ton, somebody else...this would be '88, '89...


My guess is that it was "9mm Goes Bang" by Boogie Down Productions though if your concern was that rap was unmusical I would have played some Stetsasonic instead.

Nichevo said...

Well, she was a creamy Black Irish alumna, about ten years older tham me, who I wanted to bone in the worst way, so I probably would have agreed with whatever she said. But in fact whatever it was was an improvement over anything I'd heard.

Your KRS-One piece (9mm Goes Bang )is not it, but I thank you. Different sound entirely, not the Young MC or Buju Banton style or whatever you call that.

The Stetsasonic, I like OK, but back then I also begrudged the heavy use of sampling. (Now the sampling is the best part, it reminds you of old artists who actually had talent, then maybe you can look them up and play their tracks!) Actually Stets reminds me of somebody else I like...

(Look at 'em dance in that video! Now THAT'S something. Who does THAT anymore?!?)

Hey how about Digital Underground?

Oh and Grandmaster Flash (is that different from GF & the Furious Five?)

AllenS said...

I'm happy with the poet chosen by Obama. The last thing I wanted to see was someone who looks like all those other presidents on those dollar bills.

Nichevo said...

Maybe it was My Uzi Weighs A Ton. Or something with Uzi. Uzi or 9mm.

Man, was she a juicy...mmm. Prime stuff.

Nichevo said...

Blogger AllenS said...

I'm happy with the poet chosen by Obama. The last thing I wanted to see was someone who looks like all those other presidents on those dollar bills.

1:12 PM

LOL

right? You were kidding?

Hey that reminds me - next post subject maybe, Prof. Althouse - now that the blacks are covered, when do I get minez? (mines?)

That is, when can we have a Jewish POTUS? It's about time, don't you think? (C4, if you can't shut up, could you wait a while and not poison that thread early?)

AllenS said...

Do I look like I'm kidding?

TitusPanicInTheStreetsofDundy said...

I am not cranky just speaking the truth.

Rush Limbaugh is one fat ugly mofo.

Would any of your women do him?

Could you deal with him climbing on top of you and penetrating your cooch?

What about looking at that sweaty, lardy face grimmacing as it is about to shoot?

Could you endure that pain?

No one should be that hard up and if they are I am saying a little prayer for them.

Would any of you women really want to blow Rush by having to rest his stomach fat on your heat as you are on your knees taking the little hog with a few pubes?

Life should be richer than that. Especially when it comes to sex. Treat yourself with more dignity than that. You aren't that bad looking and insecure are you? Would you be willing to enable that thing by feeding the trap his penis endowment pills before sex? If so you are amazing. Scarey amazing.

I have actually never listened to him but I can't get over the entire superficial package. It is just so wrong in so many ways.

Women deserve better than that...at least physically. I guess sometimes lots of money can "absorb" some of the shock and pain and ugliness but not enough money in the world should allow a women to actually service that thing. Could you imagine a video of that thing having sex? You know the woman isn't enjoying it, who could? Just picture it in your mind for a few moments. EWWWWWWWWWWW.

The Crack Emcee said...

Everybody,

I'm trying to move (my residence) so I can't be here like I want - I love old school though! - but, regarding the idea of what, say, Glen can't understand:

Like the guy who doesn't get the humor in Rush Limbaugh, it dawns on me that Glen misses Afrika Bambaataa's vision for Rap, which, from the very beginning, has always been inclusive, starting with Planet Rock; it just asked certain things of it's "Universal People" - like we needed better drummers than rock usually provides (Looking For The Perfect Beat") so we went to drum machines that could provide them.

Also, I'm trying to find stuff that would be good for an inaugural, but not only is that a higher calling, but comparing what I have access to, to the limited outlook of listeners on the web (meaning trying to find videos, etc.) is tough because so much that's online reflects the popularity of artists like Eminem, and that's depressing.

I'll be back.

TitusPanicInTheStreetsofDundy said...

I am sorry I just believe their should be a law where some people can't have sex or procreate.

When I go to Wisconsin I sometimes see absolutely horrid people with children and the first thing that comes to my mind is, someone fucked you?

The Crack Emcee said...

One more thing:

Glen,

It sounds to me like what bothers you is the fact braggadocio is a part of rap - something that isn't a problem to those that understand the art form - which, I think, is Ann's point. There's so much going on that's positive in rap - including the kind of hard-hitting self-criticism I hear a lot of critics claim they'd like to see - it makes it hard for me to understand the kind of comments some of you throw at it. I mean, I don't think most of Hip-Hop's critics understand the game, or when it's being inclusive. But it always has been.

I'll be back.

The Crack Emcee said...

TitusPanicInTheStreetsofDundy,

That comment demands you provide us with a picture of yourself, handsome.

Nichevo said...

Blogger AllenS said...

Do I look like I'm kidding?


How should I know? I haven't recalled your blogging career to mind so I can't pin down your ideology. Your profile says you're a right-wing Indian (Amerind). I don't know where to go with that. You want the Prevent Forest Fires guy, or was it the Don't Litter guy?

If it isn't clear where I stand, I think it was a poor remark if sincere. I always want the "best available athlete," or the best talent of whatever kind.

(If not sincere, lulz.)

Nichevo said...

Blogger TitusPanicInTheStreetsofDundy said...

I am sorry I just believe their should be a law where some people can't have sex or procreate.

When I go to Wisconsin I sometimes see absolutely horrid people with children and the first thing that comes to my mind is, someone fucked you?

1:23 PM


In some cases, again and again and again. Oh Titus, you have no idea. I had this blind date in college...well, not online, or anyway, not here. But the dogs can surprise you. [shudder at the memory]

Host with the Most said...

Starts on the left side of the dais with Barack and Joe leading:

Dee Dee Dee Dee
Dee Dee Dee Dee
A weem O mum a way


Right side of dais with George and Dick and Antonin joins in:

Dee Dee Dee Dee
Dee Dee Dee Dee
A weem O wum a way

All of the inaugural crowd that isn't white:

Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh
Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh
Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh
Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh

All white people begin:

In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle, the Lion Sleeps Tonight
In the Jungle, the Mighty Jungle, the Lion Sleeps Tonight

Obama stands, shows all teeth, crowd all together:

Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh
Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh
Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh
Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh a-Wimoweh

AllenS said...

Nichevo--

Here is a comment by Barack Obama, that George W. Bush and John McCain are going to remind voters that he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills".

So, I guess I was kidding, but not so much.

Pogo said...

Roses are red
Violets are blue
There's a big effing Depression coming
And we are so screwed.

TMink said...

Yep, some day us white people will embrace what is right. Some day. Maybe.

Because none of us white people have ever supported civil rights. Black and brown and mellow yellow people did that with us fighting them the whole way.

Those white faces you see in the photos of Dr. King? Photoshop.

White folks never did nuthin right, did we Rev. Lowrey?

Trey

garage mahal said...

This is Obama's Depression. We're just living in it.

Meade said...

Host w/Most: Tell me you are not disrespecting Karl Denver. I don't want to have to come all the way out there just to fuck you up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09SXTH699xE

Host with the Most said...

Meade,

That was Great! Thanks for the link!

In watching the adoring throngs yesterday at the inauguration, I kept thinking of the beginning of "The Lion King", where every one awaits to worship the newly born king. Everyone bowing (even giraffes - have you seen this thing?) when the new King is lifted up.

The Bible is correct - everyone worships something.
The story of the Old Testament is the desire of Jehovah to rule directly over his people, but they insisted on a human king. So - they got tall, good-looking, eloquent Saul.

We all know how that turned out.

onparkstreet said...

Freeman Hunt: I know, right? Those BEST AMERICAN WHATEVERs always seem, I dunno, less than engaging, IMHO.

Eugene: thanks for the introduction to the waka-style poetry (I love!). While searching the waka wiki, came across the journal AmericanTanka (tanka is a type of poetry and it's new to me). One of the sample poems kind of got to me:

"riding a bus
through the Oklahoma heat
an old woman
tells everything that matters
to someone else's son" - Marc Thompson.

Wow.

Pogo: your poem kind of got to me, too....

*I learned a lot from this thread. Cool.

Nichevo said...

Blogger AllenS said...

Nichevo--

Here is a comment by Barack Obama, that George W. Bush and John McCain are going to remind voters that he "doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills".

So, I guess I was kidding, but not so much.

1:42 PM

Thanks, AllenS. I knew about that dreadful theme he kept ringing; just couldn't imagine you holding to it.

AllenS said...

"I knew about that dreadful theme he kept ringing; just couldn't imagine you holding to it."

I'm not exactly sure what that sentence means, but I'll take it as a compliment.

AllenS said...

And, something else:

It's not Blogger AllenS, but Commenter AllenS.

Nichevo said...

Just so, Al. ;>

But we have allowed ourselves to become distracted from lamping on the suckitude of the inaugural poetess.

Can you be shot for that? Sucking up the inauguration with Vogon-level poetry?

Nichevo said...

Oh Al (and you must forgive me for shortening nicks, I do it to everybody, tell me if you mind):

When you see "blogger" that is because I cut and pasted your whole comment, including that little graphic to the left of your name. When cut-and-pasting, that graphic comes across as (usually) text "Blogger." As opposed to TypeKey user or something, I guess.

AllenS said...

No problem, Ni. I have to honestly say that I've never tried lamping on the suckitude, but I don't get around like I used to.

Nichevo said...

Never too late, Allen. Would you be more comfortable with "suckheit?"

Doyle said...

If you've just got a big stereotype in your head, then you will be incapable of understanding Amba's point.

I'm confident that I know more about rap than you, Ann. That I found Amba's suggestion stupid doesn't imply that I didn't understand it.

LutherM said...

If you want to read a different poem about an event ......


The Day Lady Died


It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Frank O'Hara

LutherM said...

If you want to read a different poem about an event ......


The Day Lady Died


It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Frank O'Hara

LutherM said...

If you want to read a different poem about an event ......


The Day Lady Died


It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Frank O'Hara

LutherM said...

If you want to read a different poem about an event ......


The Day Lady Died


It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Frank O'Hara

LutherM said...

If you want to read a different poem about an event ......


The Day Lady Died


It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
three days after Bastille day, yes
it is 1959 and I go get a shoeshine
because I will get off the 4:19 in Easthampton
at 7:15 and then go straight to dinner
and I don't know the people who will feed me

I walk up the muggy street beginning to sun
and have a hamburger and a malted and buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets
in Ghana are doing these days
I go on to the bank
and Miss Stillwagon (first name Linda I once heard)
doesn't even look up my balance for once in her life
and in the GOLDEN GRIFFIN I get a little Verlaine
for Patsy with drawings by Bonnard although I do
think of Hesiod, trans. Richmond Lattimore or
Brendan Behan's new play or Le Balcon or Les Nègres
of Genet, but I don't, I stick with Verlaine
after practically going to sleep with quandariness

and for Mike I just stroll into the PARK LANE
Liquor Store and ask for a bottle of Strega and
then I go back where I came from to 6th Avenue
and the tobacconist in the Ziegfeld Theatre and
casually ask for a carton of Gauloises and a carton
of Picayunes, and a NEW YORK POST with her face on it

and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
leaning on the john door in the 5 SPOT
while she whispered a song along the keyboard
to Mal Waldron and everyone and I stopped breathing

Frank O'Hara

Palladian said...

Man, that Frank O'Hara sure was a repetitive writer.

William said...

I subscribe to the New Yorker. Every so often I try to read one of the poems therein. About one out of three I can catch a phrase or a meaning that makes sense. I don't know if they're written in code or aimed at smarter people than me, but I just don't get them. I wonder why poets no longer feel it useful to write with enough clarity so that you can understand their ambiguity....About the inaugural: I think everyone misses the point. It is not an entertainment event; it is a religious ceremony. In a Roman Catholic Mass, the point is not the sermon or the choir or the organ music; the point is the transformation of the host. All the other stuff just allows one to sense the transcendent importance of that act. In the Inaugural, the applicant Obama is transformed into President Obama before our eyes. Just as prayers in a dead language lend pomp to the transubstantiation, a few lines of lifeless poetry lends importance to the inaugural. A poem with clear and catchy lines would just be out of place.

William said...

Titus does not understand female sexuality. The world if full of men who are better looking than Donald Trump or Harvey Weinstein. Put those men into the same room with those two eyesores and watch who the models and starlets flow to. Very few women find a man with 100 million dollars completely unattractive. Sure the suppurating sores under the folds of flesh are kind of gross, but what a great sense of humor.

jeff said...

"Man, that Frank O'Hara sure was a repetitive writer."

No kidding. That is one repetitive son of a bitch.

AllenS said...

The only poetry that I ever really got into, was that Burma Shave stuff on the side of the road.

Uglylilpup said...

Lots of interesting chatter here. I find it heartening that so many people are actually talking about a poem for 5 minutes. That's cool. Speaking as an editor and poet myself (I know I just lost a lot of you) I found a few good things in EA's poem...I liked the echoes of Whitman, some of the diction...but I found myself liking the poem more for what it wasn't (Maya Angelou) than what it was. This is faint praise indeed. Some people here have an antiquated view of poetry ("it has to have meter and rhyme"--even Milton would disagree with this!) but for the most part you're talking about the poem as a poem. Awesome.

I think, in the end, this is an impossible poem to write. What new thing can be said on a day when you can't say anything troubling, ambiguous, or "brambly?" To look back, I think Miller Williams' poem for Clinton (1997) was the best of the four that have ever been written. Frost's had Palladian's "meter and rhythm" but in the end was forgettable, trite--the work of an Old Man Poet. Not the total catalogue of cliche that Angelou's was, but pretty cheesy.

I think it's not the role of the poet to be a rebel, necessarily, but to be the "unacknowledged legislators" means to remind people what they didn't know they knew--poetry needs to be way more subtle than this.

Frodo Potter said...

William at 5:30 who wrote about the transformation of the Appplicant into the President. I think you nailed it. Well done!

Palladian said...

"Some people here have an antiquated view of poetry ("it has to have meter and rhyme"--even Milton would disagree with this!)"

Yes, but, sir, Elizabeth Alexander is no John Milton.

And as for my "antiquated" view, I'll paraphrase the words of my friend Luca Turin, when quality itself is seen as passé, that's decadence. And I don't mean that as a good thing. You simply cannot brand rhyme and meter as "antiquated" just because you feel like it. There are certainly a few great poems that do not rhyme, but the quality of the imagery and the philosophical sophistication required to keep free verse from being just a blob of random thoughts must be very very high indeed. Generally I'm not interested.

rcocean said...

I AM Obama.
Singer of songs,
Messiah. . .
Softer than fluff of cotton. . .
Harder than dark earth
Roads beaten in the sun
By the bare feet of Democrats. . .
Foam of teeth. . . breaking crash of laughter. . .
Red love of the blood of woman,
White love of the tumbling lefties. . .
Lazy love of the beloved spouse. . .
Sweated and driven for the White House,
Loud laughter with hands like hams,
Fists toughened from shaking hands,
Smiling the slumber dreams of old Hawaiian jungles,
Crazy as the sun and dew and dripping, heaving life
of the Hawaiian jungle,
Brooding and muttering with memories of Havard Law:
I am Obama.
Look at me.
I am Obama.

Nichevo said...

Kinda Carl Sandburg territory. Maybe rework his City of the Big Shoulders?

Jennifer in MN said...

I think it should have been Jesse Jackson reading Suess' Green Eggs and Ham
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPxPciXcJvc

JAL said...

Freeman: Could you get an excellent reader of poetry to deliver them [poems by dead poets]instead of using a current poet?

10:53 AM


You're kidding.

You think the poets union would let anyone do that?

amba said...

Don't get me started on all the wonderful, potent, and overlooked rap music out there. I'll let Amba defend herself but I could do it - easily.

Crack Emcee -- please do it!!

I've heard snatches of amazingly good rap (enough to win me over from my own stereotyped attitudes much like some expressed here) but my life is not such that I can listen to music systematically. (Disabled husband who hates everything but jazz; I have to hear him calling me so can't suit up in an iPod, and I don't think he would tolerate hearing the experiment.) It would help a lot to hear from you who I should listen to more of.

I liked Wu-Tang Clan in Jim Jarmusch's melancholy comedy "Ghost Dog" (with Forest Whitaker), but that's like a decade old.

Presumably if they had chosen a rapper, he'd have written something suitable for the occasion. The best of them are poets. Let's listen to Crack Emcee's playlist and then come back and discuss.

sonicfrog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sonicfrog said...

I’m a man who worships at the alter of concise prose. Here’s mine, from Bush’s perspective:

Dang
It’s done
He’s in I’m Out
Nu-ceu-ler!

The Crack Emcee said...

First off, yesterday was the late Jam Master Jay's birthday - a sad anniversary if there ever was one. The fact that no one, still, has been arrested for the murder of Run-DMC's DJ is another kind of crime all by itself. Watch the video.

O.K., this was tougher than I thought - not because I can't find appropriate artists (there's too many to count) - but because what an artist does for money can be so much different than what (I've seen) they're capable of. I'm sure that those who have already made suggestions understand what I'm getting at. Take these examples that way as well: these videos are just to show who they are, and shouldn't be thought of as representative of all their work, or an example of what they might have done on Inauguration Day. Some (Slick Rick, Cee-Lo) ) speak to Obama's age, others (Talib Kweli, Mos Def) for their way with words, etc. (All of them, surely, would've been subject to pre-approval.)

Anyway, here's a few who I think, for those various reasons, would have been fine as part of the Inauguration Day festivities:

Talib Kweli

Cee-Lo Green

Slick Rick

Outkast

Pigeon John

De La Soul

Jurassic 5

Mos Def

P.M. Dawn

US 3

Fat Lip

The Roots

What do you think?