The first hundred days, in poetry
February 6, 2009 1:15 PM   Subscribe

Everyone and his or her uncle has griped about the mediocre official inaugural poems heralding recent new U.S. presidencies. Meanwhile, poets Arielle Greenberg & Rachel Zucker have put together a blog, STARTING TODAY, commissioning a poem a day from many of those they consider the best contemporary poets writing today, documenting in verse life under the new ruling paradigm.
posted by aught (16 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite he said "science is
coming, people" to which my
son said "did he say
science?" I said "I know
it's hard to believe but
the new president said science"

posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:23 PM on February 6, 2009 [3 favorites]

right, here's my gripe: the inaugural poem wasn't middle-brow schlock, like an aged aretha franklin belting out a vegas versions of grade school patriotic hits, or Darth Vader's personal composer doing his take on Appalachian spring... not saying I'm going to put it up on my refrigerator but there was something refreshing about it's prosaic qualities and plain-ness...
posted by geos at 1:36 PM on February 6, 2009

Day 11: Prayer for the President
And just for a moment
she was just a woman
in a fancy white dress
dancing with her husband
and just for a moment
he was just a man
in a crisp black tuxedo
dancing with his wife

and I was just one more American
sitting in front of my TV
wishing this first day and night
could last forever as I danced
myself up to bed, the prayer
I’d been murmuring since morning
spinning around my head:

keep them safe
keep them safe
keep them safe

posted by anastasiav at 1:36 PM on February 6, 2009

like he said science?

is coming people!

to which?

my son said.

did he say?

Science, I said.

I know. It's hard to...


but the new president said...

posted by bitteroldman at 1:37 PM on February 6, 2009

... full disclosure: I just re-worded poem number 2 in an attempted nod to e.e. cummings
posted by bitteroldman at 1:39 PM on February 6, 2009

*NPR voice*

I don't hate


Some poetry

is quite


I just


the way



posted by ND¢ at 1:43 PM on February 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Say what you will about George W. Bush, at least his White House had better taste in poets.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:47 PM on February 6, 2009

Yay! I love pottery!
posted by Mister_A at 1:51 PM on February 6, 2009

I enjoyed Rachel Zucker's #16.
posted by Mister_A at 2:05 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for posting this. Day 5 is my favorite so far.

On a slushed side street in the Bronx, a determined hustler
attacks your smudged windshield with enterprise, sloshes
the pane with old water and rocks a feverish squeegee
before you can mouth the word no. Stunned at a sluggish
stoplight, you have no choice but to force a smile, nod idly
while he stretches the busy machine of his body across
your hood and whips the gritty wet round and around.

posted by oneirodynia at 2:29 PM on February 6, 2009

Oops, it's day 7, not 5.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:30 PM on February 6, 2009

Day #18: IRFH

It makes me a little uncomfortable,
All this talk about the size and efficacy
Of Obama's enormous stimulus package.
Is there too much pork? Mmmm... bacon!
What were we talking about?
Oh, yeah. "Congress."
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:53 PM on February 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Dear Obama;
Are you kidding me
with this "Faith-based" thing?
Stop it.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:54 PM on February 6, 2009

I still think Day 1 (the actual inaugural poem) is by far the best.
posted by ericbop at 8:45 PM on February 6, 2009

Joe Beese: Sorta. Olds actually refused to attend that event. Regarding the Bush administration's "taste in poets," its selections for Poet Laureate have been a mixed bag, running from Billy Colllins and Ted Kooser at the folksy colloquial end to Louise Gluck, Donald Hall, and Charles Simic at the mainstream academic end.

It might be worth mentioning that Stanley Kunitz (2000 US Poet Laureate), Rita Dove (a Clinton years Poet Laureate), and many others had similarly refused a big 2003 Laura Bush-sponsored poetry symposium, citing opposition to Bush administration policies -- and when other poets made noises about accepting but using the venue to voice opposition to the Bush administration, the event was canceled outright. Sam Hammill put together a website and anthology of Iraq War protest poems in the wake of the matter.

Relatedly, Robert Lowell refused a 1965 Lyndon Johnson invitation in protest of the Vietnam War.
posted by aught at 11:54 AM on February 7, 2009

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