Are we not of interest to each other?
Elizabeth Alexander, poet and professor of African-American studies at Yale, has been chosen to compose and deliver a poem at Obama’s inauguration today. On her website, Alexander pays tribute to Obama’s “respect for the power of language.” Because, as she tells it, “poetry is not meant to cheer; rather, poetry challenges, and moves us towards transformation. Language distilled and artfully arranged shifts our experience of the words – and the worldviews – we live in.”
So much for poetry making nothing happen. After all, as Alexander herself articulated in her creed Ars Poetica #100: I Believe:
“Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice, and are we not of interest to each other?”
A question worth pondering on a day when the promise of the election of a new president thousands of miles away is palpable even in a grey-rimmed office on Tara street.