Praise Song for the Day: A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

( 2 )

Overview

On January 20, 2009, Elizabeth Alexander served as the fourth ever inaugural poet and a central participant in one of the most closely watched inaugurations in American history. Selected by Barack Obama, Alexander composed and delivered her original poem "Praise Song for the Day" to an audience of millions, and now the poem can be read and savored for posterity. Printed on heavy, uncoated stock, with French flaps, and a silver foil stamp, this collectible chapbook is a cherished...

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Overview

On January 20, 2009, Elizabeth Alexander served as the fourth ever inaugural poet and a central participant in one of the most closely watched inaugurations in American history. Selected by Barack Obama, Alexander composed and delivered her original poem "Praise Song for the Day" to an audience of millions, and now the poem can be read and savored for posterity. Printed on heavy, uncoated stock, with French flaps, and a silver foil stamp, this collectible chapbook is a cherished reminder of this monumental presidential event.

Also available in Spanish.

Canto de alabanza para el día: Poema para la ceremonia inaugural del mandato de Barack Obama

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Elizabeth Alexander is an inspired choice for this historic role. She is a marvelous poet, an incisive and influential scholar, and one of the great citizens of the literary world. What a joy it will be to see her and hear her at that podium on that day!" Alice Quinn

"Elizabeth Alexander is a superb choice for the Obama Inauguration. She is from Washington, she represents Obama's generation, and she has written about the civil rights conflict and other historical events that have shaped the character of this country . . . At the same time, her intense personal vision reveals the commonplace life illuminated from startling new angles—as good poetry always does." Tree Swenson, Director of the Academy of American Poets

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781555975456
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press
  • Publication date: 2/6/2009
  • Pages: 28
  • Sales rank: 1,400,457
  • Product dimensions: 4.40 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Alexander is the author of four collections of poetry, the most recent of which is American Sublime, two collections of essays, and several edited volumes. She is Professor of African-American Studies, English, and American Studies at Yale University.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 2.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Missing Barack Obama's Presidential Quality

    In a word: mediocre. Yes, this will disappoint devotees and debutantes, but, away from the politics of it all, the poem was not a strongly written piece. It is with sadness I post this review.

    While I love a poem filled with descriptive images, Alexander chose unimaginative cliches to show America. She presented no nuance, no color, nothing that is more than a prosaic poem not fit for a high school talent contest.

    She looked for meaning, then scraped it clean of impact and influence before committing her idea to paper.

    Who or what is she praising? A day? The definition of praise here is uniformly unpointed, as a day has no power. If the day has power, then it becomes a god, with a kind of omnipotent power.

    "A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, 'Take out your pencils. Begin.'" So what? Farmers do that. Teachers do that. She neither tells us something new, nor gives us insight about their action.

    Her attempt to summon the spirit of Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman fails with, "Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks..." as her song has no notes.

    She suggests, "Some live by 'Love thy neighbor as thy self.'" Is she suggesting others do not want to live by that, living entirely selfishly? That's hardly an Obaminian thought.

    "Love that casts a widening pool of light." Love, here, is a living entity, after she tries to explain what love looks like in vague terms.

    Praise changes from a thing to an action, clunking on the ground as the listener hums the platonic, monotonous drumbeat, "On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light."

    All of Obama's passion was passed in Alexander's poem. It will be quoted because it was read at an inauguration, but for no other reason.

    --Brockeim

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  • Posted April 6, 2009

    High price for simple poem

    This is a simple packaging of the poem read at President Obama's Inauguration. The oral reading went by so fast on Inuguration Day, amid all the other pomp and circumstances, that I'm glad for the chance to spend more time contemplating the poem at leisure. The small size and plain paper cover works because the poem is simple and strong and thought-provoking. It does seem however, that the product is greatly overpriced.

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