Elizabeth Alexander Reads from American Blue

For Something Blue, the final day of Freedom to Marry Week, I’m sharing a video of Elizabeth Alexander reading two poems: ‘Ars Poetica #92: Marcus Garvey on Elocution’ and ‘Ars Poetica #100: I Believe’ from American Blue.


The Poetry Foundation has a nice sampling of Elizabeth Alexander’s poems to read, and includes a summary of her career to date.

Elizabeth Alexander read at Emory University in Atlanta Wednesday evening to an appreciative audience. The venue was Glenn Memorial Church, a large, neoclassical structure, with arched windows, Corinthian pilasters, and vaulted ceilings, everything washed in cream paint, lit with a golden light – an ideal location for a poetry reading.

She stood at a podium, dressed simply in a dark suit and white blouse, after first being introduced by Professor Kevin Young as a ‘poet of history.’

She read a cross-section of poems from several collections, many of which were recollections of her life, her family’s lives, and the history leading up her time, told with a vocabulary rich in metaphor and magical realism. Alexander expressed gratitude to her parents’ and grandparents’ generations for doing the hard work it took for her and her peers to realize their dreams.

Several times the audience broke out into applause after the reading of a particular poem, but the one that received the loudest appreciation was ‘Praise Song for the Day.’ While she was reading ‘Praise Song’ I felt Barack Obama’s presence in the room, and shivers went up and down my arms. Afterwards Alexander said, ‘I wasn’t ever going to read that poem again. I wrote it for that day, it was a part of the day, and now it is a part of history. Besides, I don’t want people to like it more than they like my other poems! But I’ve done it, I’ve gotten it out of the way.’

I liked ‘Praise Son of the Day’ from the moment I heard it, but I also agree with Alexander, that the poem is now infused with the memories of one of the greatest historical moments of our lifetime. Later generations will have to judge her poem as it is written. For me, there’s no separating my joy of the day from the poem. It’s all wrapped up in a glow of pride, relief, and awe.


My recap of the reading wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Holly Dunlap, poet and author of Lost Kite, who met me at the reading. We went to a funky little sushi-falafel diner across from Emory after the reading, and had a nice time getting to know each other.

Logo for the Some/thing carnival hosted at The OTHER mother

Logo for the Some/thing carnival hosted at The OTHER mother

Poetry news from Asphalt Sky

Something borrowed for day three of the Freedom to Marry Week blog carnival hosted at The OTHER mother.

My news is borrowed from Jessica Fox Wilson, editor of Asphalt Sky, poet, and the author of 9 t0 5 Poet. Jo Hemmant is also editor of Asphalt Sky. She has written a wonderful essay on the workings of her creative mind and her beginnings as a writer in her essay, Beginnings, which is included in Issue 1 of Asphalt Sky.

Jessica has just announced that her second issue has gone live. You can read it here.

She has included a poem I wrote, called At dusk they fly, a surreal look at Ophelia and staying alive.

Holly Dunlap has two poems in this issue, Women’s Work and Raw Honey. I had the pleasure of meeting Holly in person last night at Elizabeth Alexander’s reading at Emory University, in Atlanta.

You can also read poems by Nathan Moore, Ken Head, and others.

Something Old for Freedom to Marry

It’s day one of the Freedom to Marry blog carnival at the OTHER mother, and

Me at 10

Me at 10

I have three items for today’s theme of something old.

The first is this photo on the left, taken 38 years ago, at the age I was when I wrote the following poem. When I was ten I used to write poems and slip them into my teacher’s desk drawer. Two years later, when he saw the for-sale sign up at my house, Mr. Wheeler typed up my poems and gave them to me in a bound spiral. My first (and only, to date) collection!

My second something-old is this poem. I used to think, up until I was in high school, that poems always had to rhyme.

You might notice a misspelled word in the poem, which apparently my teacher didn’t catch when he typed it… . I’ve always been a terrible speller, which I attribute to being a Gestalt learner, but I’m just making excuses.

indian-summerwedding invitation

This third picture is a drawing my sister made of my husband and me for our wedding invitations. We’ve been married 21 years, so that’s how old the drawing is. One reason why we’ve been married for over two decades is because we have children. Children need stable homes, and a legal, binding marriage can help create that stability when times are tough. The marriage also gives children a better chance for financial support should the parents decide to split up. All children deserve parents with a strong commitment to work together to provide a good home. It doesn’t make sense to deprive someone of that right simply because of the parent’s gender. Let’s support everyone’s right to marry whomever they please.

The OTHER mother hosts blog carnival

Robin Reagler, writer, poet, and executive director of Writers in The Schools in Texas has announced on one of her blogs, The OTHER mother, that she’ll be hosting a blog carnival to highlight Freedom to Marry week. Here’s what Robin has to say:

I hope you will join me in this blog carnival, which we began last year. The way it works is simple. Each day next week, post to your blog or facebook page something on these topics, according to the “olde” wedding tradition:

Tuesday, Feb. 10… Something Old

Wednesday, Feb. 11… Something New

Thursday, Feb. 12… Something Borrowed

Friday, Feb. 13… Something Blue

Saturday, Feb. 14… Valentine’s Day: Celebrate Love

Visit The OTHER mother this week to learn more about the carnival, to link your posts to Robin’s site, and to find out what others are doing to highlight the need for all adults to have the freedom to form the marriages they envision for themselves.

You don’t have to be LGBT to participate in this carnival. All you need is a desire to stand up for all adults to love and marry their chosen partner. One would think that statement should go without saying, but sadly, that’s not the case. The only way all adults in the US will have equal marriage rights is for everyone to get involved in raising awareness. That means those in hetero relationships need to lend their voices too.

Logo for the Some/thing carnival hosted at The OTHER mother

Logo for the Some/thing carnival hosted at The OTHER mother