Alexander, Elizabeth (1962 – )
Elizabeth Anderson is an American poet, essayist, playwright, and a university professor.
DS – Document Signed – Praise Song for the Day. An original copy of the Inaugural Poem for Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration on January 20, 2009, signed on the title page. Near fine.
On January 20, 2009, at the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, Alexander recited the poem “Praise Song for the Day”, which she composed for the occasion. She became only the fourth poet to read at an American presidential inauguration, after Robert Frost in 1961, Maya Angelou in 1993, and Miller Williams in 1997. The announcement of her selection was favorably received by her fellow poets Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, Paul Muldoon, and Jay Parini, who extolled her as “smart, deeply educated in the traditions of poetry, true to her roots, responsive to black culture.” The Poetry Foundation also hailed the choice, “Her selection affirms poetry’s central place in the soul of our country.” Though the selection of the widely unknown poet, who was a personal friend of Obama, was lauded, the actual poem and delivery were met with a poor reception. The Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times Book editor, and most critics found that “her poem was too much like prose,” and that “her delivery [was] insufficiently dramatic.” The Minneapolis Star-Tribune found the poem “dull, ‘bureaucratic’ and found it proved that “the poet’s place is not on the platform but in the crowd, that she should speak not for the people but to them.”