A Note from Mel

Make the connection…

Politics, Poetry and Prose?: On Inaugural Poet, Elizabeth Alexander January 22, 2009


Elizabeth Alexander, Inaugural Poet

Elizabeth Alexander, Inaugural Poet for Barack Obama

Alexander’s “say it plain” delivery impelled varied responses.


“She can’t read as well as Maya Angelou.”


“The highlight of the Inauguration!”


“That’s not poetry. That’s prose.”


Alexander, mother, professor, poet, created her space:


All about us is noise. All about us is

noise and bramble, thorn and din, each

one of our ancestors on our tongues.


To have the opportunity to be the vehicle, the body through which words that will forever define this day come. To be alive in a moment like ours. Ours. Yes, Mrs. Elizabeth Alexander spoke it painstakingly slow and without performance. Yet, her paced, deliberate speech caused me to believe she meant every word. She respects the duties, the struggle, and the perspective of every person in her poem:


A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky.

A teachers says, Take out your pencils. Begin.


The message was not to be rushed or missed in a culture’s rhythm. This was a new nation’s poem. A young nation experiencing growing pains because somehow on this day, we’re acknowledging (and maybe even listening to) all the voices, the dead voices, the varied voices, the hopeful voices, the knowing voices, and the lost voices that resonate within its post-pubescent throat. The gravity of Barack Obama’s Inauguration alone is reason to speak calmly, speak slowly, but by all means, to speak. But before all this necessary speaking and action to bring our nation to the fruition of its responsibilities and accountabilities as a maturing nation, can we be reflective and even nostalgic at times, for its childhood? Can we allow ourselves the time to stop performing, but to pause briefly in between words, images, and history to consider if “the mightiest word is love?”


Our nation’s tomorrow requires less talking paired with device and more deliberation complemented by deliberate action and heart.  Elizabeth Alexander’s Praise Song for the Day stirs up this calm call to reflect in order to move, in order to pause deliberately in between device to let the mightiest word, love, fill in the all the undefined spaces.


Read the Complete Text of Elizabeth Alexander’s Inaugural Poem at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28755895/


Learn more about Elizabeth Alexander at: http://elizabethalexander.net/index.html


Same Space, a Different Time November 7, 2008

U St. Corridor: 40 years post King assassination, post-riot, the streets are filled with celebration of our first Black President-Elect, Barack Hussein Obama. This is just the beginning. Are you ready?

I, Too, Sing America, #1

I, Too, Sing America, #1

I, Too, Sing America, #11
I, Too, Sing America, #11


I, Too, Sing America, #2

I, Too, Sing America, #2


I, Too, Sing America, #12

I, Too, Sing America, #12


I, Too, Sing America, #17

I, Too, Sing America, #17


I, Too, Sing America #22

I, Too, Sing America #22


Suspending…from a trapeze? September 25, 2008

McCain’s Request (to suspend his campaign for the Presidency to help solve the U.S. financial crisis):

“It is difficult to act both quickly and wisely, but that is what is required of us right now. Time is short, and doing nothing is not an option.”

Obama’s Response:

“This is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who, in approximately 40 days, will be responsible for dealing with this mess,” Obama said in Clearwater, Fla. “It’s going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once.”


It seems like suspending one’s Presidential campaign is one step away from a concession. But clearly, that’s not McCain’s intention. How does the McCain feel it appropriate to drop all open discussion and to deny American’s the opportunity to learn the soon-to-be President’s strategies on the issues affecting us?

I am sure McCain’s campaign suspension has nothing AT ALL to do with the economic crisis that the United States has found itself in, but more to do with saving face. If he can find grounds to cancel the Presidential debate on Friday, he can surely substantiate grounds to cancel the VP debate, which is to take place a week later, as our economic crisis is not likely to be resolved by then. By doing so, McCain will have managed to save the GOP from utter humiliation when Sarah Palin and Joe Biden go head-to-head on the issues, an area where she demonstrates great ineptness.  I do not doubt for a minute that McCain is capable of debating the issues with Obama, but his running mate is another sad, sad story.

I don’t call McCain’s strategy putting country first. A little less than two weeks ago, the GOP’s candidate wouldn’t even acknowledge our economy as the fragile wine glass teetering off the edge of the dining room table when in all actuality, the glass is free falling to an uncushioned floor.

I also wonder, had Obama suspended his campaign, would he even still be in the running? How would everyone react? Would it be proof of claims that he is not ready to lead? But, case and point, it is not Barack Obama debating the debate. It is McCain. I don’t know. In the day of globilization, our next President must be able to multi-task, must be able to think decisively and fairly quickly about issues of large gravity. He cannot postpone discussions until he has the bearings to address them. Jong-Il might actually decide to toast some caviar and cognac and have a missile launching party while the President is twiddling his fingers, and suspending issues.

Breath, Melanie. Breath.