Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Forum Panelists React to Inauguration

Yesterday, we heard Yale Alum Elizabeth Alexander deliver the Inaugural Poem on the steps of The Capitol.

Earlier this week, NPR encouraged some of the nation's most renowned poets to write their own inaugural poems...including two former Forum Panelists!

Suzan Lori-Parks, MacArthur “Genius" & Playwright of Topdog/Underdog visited us in November 2008 for Storytellers and the Stories They Tell. Here is her inaugural poem, U Being U.

U Being U
[Listen to Suzan-Lori read her poem here.]

U Being U
Mr. President-Elect
Makes me wanna get MY stuff

I feel like starting with something RADICAL
Love my Neighbor
Like share what I've got
Like think for myself
Like ask the hard questions
Like lean toward the good and help keep the peace

U being U
Makes me wanna do something new
Like Go Green, or at least try to.

You being you, Mr. President-Elect
Makes me want to look on others with respect
Makes me wanna
practice Radical Inclusion, you know,
Open my heart wide, especially in the presence of folks who
Are not like me, you know,
work to see my Brother
In the Other
You make me want to entertain all my far-out ideas
Make me wanna represent the race, as in the human race,
And know that, like You, I too am Prized.

And to those who say yr a Magic Negro,
I love them just the same
And my love helps us weave a United States.

Mr. President,
Heaven sent
Since heaven is just a place where possibility
becomes possible
And where hostility
its hostile,
I feel like picking up the trash in the park or on the beach
I think I'll teach, and learn, from all I meet
I think I'll apologize in person for all our faults
and try to make amends for our shortcomings
And also, I think,
I'll brag,
Just a little bit,
About how cool We The People are

Oh, I just had to sing you a little something
Because you,
Mr. President,
You are embarking with Us on an awesome and beautiful
And potentially perilous journey
And so I am giving you
All the Love
All the Love
All the Love
All the Love
Mr. President
That I've got
Because I believe
In the dream
And I am ready
To wake up
And live it.

American Journalist and Humorist Calvin Trillin visited The Forum in 2002 for The Forum Food Fest. Here is his poem, Anticipating the Inauguration of Barack Obama

nticipating the Inauguration of Barack Obama

[Listen to Calvin read the poem here.]

Inauguration is the day
The nation's hopes go on display —
When through one man we all convey
Our dream that things will go our way.
His resume we can't gainsay.
In politics, we know, his play
Is worthy of the NBA.
He proved that in the recent fray,
Though he had help from Tina Fey.
And now this solemn matinee
Awards the winner's bright bouquet.

First, Pastor Warren's going to pray
For everyone who isn't gay.
Obama then will stand and say,
"I take this oath that I'll obey
The statutes of the U. S. A."
In his address, he might portray
The dragons he intends to slay:
How Wall Street's sky will turn from gray
To blue as blues are chased away,
How workers will collect good pay
For turning out a Chevrolet,
How in Iraq we'll end our stay
With shortest possible delay,
How pay-to-play will be passe
So K Street suits will not hold sway.
Yes, how we'll triumph, come what may:
We'll rise up like a good souffle
'Til life's just like a cabaret.

Obamacans will shout hooray
And toast their man with Chardonnay
As commentators all make hay
Comparing him to JFK.
The Beltway types, those still blase,
Might think that soon, with some dismay,
We'll wonder if his feet are clay.
But that's all for another day

For more poems, visit NPR's Inaugural Poetry 2009 page

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