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In Jason Schneiderman's essay, “Inaugural Poems and American Hope”, a number of ceremonial poems, meaning poems written for/and or performed at American presidential inaugurations, and the implication about race are explored.
I. Humiliation, 2009
When President Obama announced Elizabeth Alexander as his inaugural poet, I was thrilled. I loved American Sublime, and her publisher Graywolf is my dream press. I liked her personal connection to Obama. I saw in her the hope that somewhere at the colleges I have worked, I might rub shoulders with someone who would turn out to be president. I identify with Alexander. Yes, this is an aspirational identification. She has tenure at an Ivy League school, a loyal and well-regarded press, and a significant readership—all things I do not see on the horizon for myself. But in the penumbra of the Obama flame, wasn’t hope itself a form of aspirational identification?
When the day arrived, I eagerly sat in front of the TV. I couldn’t wait to see what Michelle Obama was wearing. I loved he...