Friday, January 23, 2009

Okay, I know you're dying for it. I'm jumping on the bandwagon and giving my two cents about Elizabeth Alexander's poem. First off, the blog I link to discusses it a lot more coherently, but here's my try. I like the beginning. I like the plain speech -- as those of you know who've been following my blog, I use it quite a bit myself. I enjoy the repetition, the way the poem starts off slow and unassuming. I think there's a clear and deliberate contrast with the gravity of the situation, and the plain-ness of the poem, and I like it. I like the details, the proletarian focus (which one commentator said meant it was only meant for a black audience; as if there weren't poor whites, or people with poor white ancestors who worked in the fields, like ME). I liked it up until the word, "Begin." To me, it should have ended there. It wouldn't have been an inaugural poem then, but it would have worked a lot better. After the "begin", the poem gets sticky and tries so hard to be lofty. By the time she gets to the word "love", the poem is completely gone.

Some suggest that the last 6 stanzas should stand on their own, and I agree -- they are really part of a different poem. That second poem is not so hot.

And her delivery: horrid, horrid, horrid. Made it much worse than it was. She gave almost the same emphasis to every word -- sounded preachy.

That is my two pennies. Feel free to yell in response.

1 comment:

Marilyn Kallet said...

You're right about Alexander's delivery making things worse!

Please see my note and self-correction about the blog policy of Grist (they don't hold it against a writer.)

Rock on, Marilyn