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BS: Inauguration poetry

Nigel Parsons 19 Jan 09 - 06:18 AM
GUEST,MarkS(on the road) 19 Jan 09 - 11:02 PM
open mike 21 Jan 09 - 01:20 AM
Peter T. 21 Jan 09 - 09:04 AM
pdq 21 Jan 09 - 10:34 AM
Amos 21 Jan 09 - 10:41 AM
frogprince 21 Jan 09 - 10:52 AM
katlaughing 21 Jan 09 - 10:59 AM
Nigel Parsons 21 Jan 09 - 11:18 AM
mg 21 Jan 09 - 11:21 AM
Lonesome EJ 21 Jan 09 - 11:59 AM
PoppaGator 21 Jan 09 - 01:09 PM
pdq 21 Jan 09 - 01:14 PM
katlaughing 21 Jan 09 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,Jts 21 Jan 09 - 01:36 PM
Amergin 21 Jan 09 - 01:41 PM
GUEST,Jts 21 Jan 09 - 01:45 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Jan 09 - 03:03 PM
katlaughing 21 Jan 09 - 03:10 PM
Amos 21 Jan 09 - 03:53 PM
Peter T. 21 Jan 09 - 04:14 PM
Nigel Parsons 21 Jan 09 - 04:27 PM
Nigel Parsons 21 Jan 09 - 04:33 PM
Lonesome EJ 21 Jan 09 - 06:49 PM
open mike 21 Jan 09 - 08:35 PM
John Hardly 21 Jan 09 - 08:45 PM
Peter T. 21 Jan 09 - 08:53 PM
Amos 21 Jan 09 - 09:29 PM
GUEST,JTS 21 Jan 09 - 09:52 PM
Lonesome EJ 21 Jan 09 - 11:57 PM
open mike 22 Jan 09 - 12:03 AM
Lonesome EJ 22 Jan 09 - 12:21 AM
Nigel Parsons 22 Jan 09 - 03:08 AM
Peter T. 22 Jan 09 - 07:43 AM
Bobert 22 Jan 09 - 07:51 AM
Amos 22 Jan 09 - 10:34 AM
Peter T. 22 Jan 09 - 10:37 AM
Amergin 22 Jan 09 - 01:39 PM
Amos 22 Jan 09 - 02:48 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 22 Jan 09 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,Jts 22 Jan 09 - 06:07 PM
GUEST,HiLo 23 Jan 09 - 08:45 AM

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Subject: BS: Innauguration poetry
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 06:18 AM

I heard on Radio4 that this was to be the fourth Innauguration to include an official poet.
What would 'Catters like to say?

Just to start the ball rolling:

Befriend the Dalai Lama,
Please Mr Obama.
Get the boys out of Iraq,
Please President Barack


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: GUEST,MarkS(on the road)
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 11:02 PM

I hope I am wrong, but cannot help thinking an appropriate poem for the forthcoming government will be "The Second Coming" by Yeats.

Particularly

.......the worst are full of passionate intensity.........

Ma


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: open mike
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:20 AM

By Elizabeth Alexander , written for the inauguration of
the 44th President of the United States Baraka Obama Jan. 20, 2009

Praise song for the day.

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.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

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."

We need to find a place where we are safe;
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,
picked the cotton and the lettuce,
built brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign;
The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love,
love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light.
Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp --
praise song for walking forward in that light


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Peter T.
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 09:04 AM

Not a great poem. Sort of middling Walt Whitman with sociology attached. The line about "Take out your pencils. Begin." is pretty terrific. I guess there is also nothing wrong with the poem being essentially set in the rural 1950's --but really how many people stitch and darn any more?   

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: pdq
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 10:34 AM

"A teacher says,
'Take out your pencils. Begin.'"


It is much easier to write doggeral such as this than it is to actually improve our system of public education. Brats in our big cities score below the Third World "students", then 1/2 of them drop out.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 10:41 AM

While I was not highly im[pressed with her poem, it is not doggerel.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: frogprince
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 10:52 AM

What Amos said. I like it a bit better, reading it and having time to "get it", than I did when she read it aloud. Since it's "prose poetry" in form anyhow, I think it would be easier to grasp when read aloud if it ran "this is a praise song for the day..."


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 10:59 AM

I think her poem suffered from the way she read it. That was the one thing, of the whole event, that I did not care for; it really seemed quite pedestrian; as I said, not just the poem, but the way she presented it.

I would like to have heard Imagine. With President Obama it is a little easier to do so.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 11:18 AM

Oh for the days of scansion & rhyme,
and poets with more than one thought at a time.
With words stacked, like reeds, all ready for thatching.
Then finished & trimmed with all the ends matching.
But now I should move with the times I suppose,
And ignore the distinction twixt poems & prose!


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: mg
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 11:21 AM

It took me a long time to realize it was a poem. It was quite tedious to listen to, although I would never critique a poem itself...mg


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 11:59 AM

Peter T's affection for the "take out your pencils" line is predictable as evidenced by his past obsessions.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: PoppaGator
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:09 PM

The line "TAKE our your PENcils beGIN" has a nice, traditional meter that is lacking in the rest of this bit of free verse. That's probably why we singers llike it.

Of course, there's also the school-days nostalgia factor...


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: pdq
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:14 PM

Perhaps nostalgia just ain't like it used to be.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:16 PM

Well done, Nigel!

Tedious is a good way to describe it, mg.

LeeJ, Peter's posing reminded me of his confessed obsession, too!:-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: GUEST,Jts
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:36 PM

I didn't know we had so many people who felt qualified to criticize the content of a poem. I think Ms Alexander made an admirable job trying to capture the mood of the country and to include everyone she could.

I think this line was aimed at mudcatters and people like them.


>>Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.<<


Isn't the test of poetry whether it moves people? Isn't the context important? Isn't the most moving line of that ceremony "I Barack Houssein Obama, do solemnly swear." It was written 2 hundred years ago but it was poetry to my ears.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Amergin
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:41 PM

I wasn't all that impressed with the poem....it seemed all over the place...and sort of rushed...as if she wrote it at the last minute.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: GUEST,Jts
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:45 PM

Do any of you think you can do better?

I'd love to read you inauguration poems.

Here is a start for you....

There once was a man named Obama?


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 03:03 PM

I was pleased there was a nod in our direction with that line about homemade music.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 03:10 PM

Writer I may be and called that by others, not just myself, the first thing that popped out of my mouth when I heard the poem was "I can write better than that; Mudcatters can write better than that!" And, considering the talent we have here, I DO believe that!

The poem did not move me.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 03:53 PM

THere is a range of Mudcat-authored poetry on the Mudcat Poetry Corner thread. Lonesome EJ's are a great example; more vivid, more telling, better timed, IMHO, than this one. But really, it is not just to try and measure such things against each other.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Peter T.
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 04:14 PM

I have absolutely no recollection of writing that piece about pencils. That is really, really scary.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 04:27 PM

Guest:Jts:
"I didn't know we had so many people who felt qualified to criticize the content of a poem. I think Ms Alexander made an admirable job trying to capture the mood of the country and to include everyone she could. "

It seems strange that you expect us to suspend our critical functions, and then feel that you are in a superior position and thus able to apply criticism yourself (all in one sentence).
Or are you unaware that criticism is not always negative?


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 04:33 PM

In a similar vein Guest:Jts
Isn't the test of poetry whether it moves people? Isn't the context important? Isn't the most moving line of that ceremony "I Barack Houssein Obama, do solemnly swear." It was written 2 hundred years ago but it was poetry to my ears.

If, as you claim, the test of poetry is whether it moves people, the books such as "Jane Eyre" & "Rebecca" must be poetry, based on their ability to affect their readers.
Also I find it amazing that a line about Barack Houssein Obama was written 200 years ago. Do you have a citation for that quote?


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 06:49 PM

That's ok Peter. That's why we're here!;>]


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: open mike
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 08:35 PM

well i found it moving, especially how it included those whose vision
caused roads to be built so we all could travel into unknown territory.

and the builders and cleaners of a building as well as those who do
work in the offices ... and how it honored those workers from all walks of life....

i fear that stitching, darning and patching will become more and more common as these financial times require repairing and re-using what we already have rather that replacing...

these words held meaning for me, and i am glad that this thread has
inspired so many comments...


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: John Hardly
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 08:45 PM

I wanted to like it. Really, I did. Maybe if set to music?


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Peter T.
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 08:53 PM

Perhaps, like a lot of things in life, everyone was trying just too hard -- I defy anyone to write something 2 million people are going to hear live, and maybe a billion around the world, and not seize up. Both the poem and Obama's speech are "the sort of thing this sort of thing is supposed to sound like".

It is interesting (I just read this) that Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech was 2/3rds written, but the last part, the famous part, was spontaneous.   (It was spontaneously fused from many years of preaching and praying and bible reading and emotion -- doesn't happen often).


yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 09:29 PM

The impossible is made by street walking,
Menders, and patchers,
Fixers of today, making ready, lovers in wait.

Teaching the earlier lessons, talking
About small, important matters,
About each; nothing heady, but nothing late.

When embers are made new by the breath
And such places prepared to be filled,
Then it begins, by multiplication.

Then, the whispers of old deaths
Sing to bring out the impossible
In the voice of a whole nation.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: GUEST,JTS
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 09:52 PM

Nigel,

In the unlikely event that you are being serious. My response is that context is important. No Obama's name was not in the words written 200 years ago. The majesty of that day was that the potential for it was there. It has taken until now to reach that potential.

Maybe the poem could have been better. I am not sure how. I'd sure like to see better in this thread. Keep in my the limitations that must have been placed on her. Especially consider that she would be expected not to step on the themes of Obama's speech.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 11:57 PM

Great stuff, Amos.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: open mike
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 12:03 AM

i inaugurate amos for poet lariat!


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 12:21 AM

Poet lariat? I suppose if you gave him enough rope he might hang himself, speaking metaphorically of course.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 03:08 AM

Guest:JTS (or Guest Jts)
Nigel,

In the unlikely event that you are being serious. My response is that context is important. No Obama's name was not in the words written 200 years ago. The majesty of that day was that the potential for it was there. It has taken until now to reach that potential.

That seems to be the point, in order for words to have the power to move they need to be commonly understood.
If you had said the phrase was "200 years in the making" that would have meant one thing. Saying "I Barack Houssein Obama, do solemnly swear."(your quote marks) It was written 2 hundred years ago should be a statement of fact.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Peter T.
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 07:43 AM

Hey, Amos, I'm with LEJ (as always), that is really, really good. "Nothing heady, but nothing late". That is fine, it is all fine.

Is there more of this?

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Bobert
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 07:51 AM

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Obama is cool
Bush ain't

(Clever, Boberdz...)

Nevermind...

B;~)


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Amos
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 10:34 AM

Peter:

Of that piece, no. It was quickly writ and set down.

Your remark makes me feel all swole up!! Thanks.

As to other pieces, see the Mudcat Poetry Thread.



A


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Peter T.
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 10:37 AM

You should submit it immediately to the New Yorker. Or somewhere. "Another Inaugural Poem" or something.....

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Amergin
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 01:39 PM

I am curious to know why JTS is defending this poem so dearly. If this person had read it or heard it in another setting from Obama's inauguration, would they feel the same way? Why does this person feel that any criticism of the poem is forbidden? The thought police on the left are just as dangerous as that on the right.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: Amos
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 02:48 PM

AMergin:

I think the poem as written (hers, I mean) has merit and can be defended just fine purely on those merits. I think the context of its delivery was very difficult and perhaps some othe rpoem would have been more suited for that particular stage.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 03:17 PM

I love poetry, I read a lot of it, and I loved the inaugural poem. And that's all I have to say.


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: GUEST,Jts
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 06:07 PM

I am not dearly defending the poem. I am simply postulating that the woman performed adequately in a very difficult task. By the way Jon Stewart seems to have agreed with many of you. The fact is that it was at Obama's inauguration. It had to shine on its own when compared to Obama's oratory, sacred Oaths, and iconic musicianship. But unlike the oaths and musicianship it had to keep from contrasting with or echoing Obama's speech.

On it's own, it wasn't much of a poem imho, but in context, it fit the demands of the occasion. I certainly cannot find fault with her style or use of specific words.

>>Saying "I Barack Houssein Obama, do solemnly swear."(your quote marks) It was written 2 hundred years ago should be a statement of fact. <<

Nigel, You win!

Though I think that you know what I meant and I'm sure that everybody else does, congratulations on proving yourself as a word nerd. I wish you the best of luck in your quest to win your next, and any subsequent, conversation. :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: Inauguration poetry
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 08:45 AM

I love poetry, I read a lot of. I thought the poem was dreadful. I hate to be negative about what appeared to be an honest attempt at poetry..but there are standards by which we can judge written work, this poem, to my mind, failed to achieve even a minimum standard.


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