A Poem for Thursday #92

Photo by Taylor Wright on Unsplash


Elizabeth Alexander is an American poet, essayist, and playwright. Alexander's poems concentrate on the subjects of race, politics, motherhood, and history. Alexander was asked to read one of her poems at Barack Obama's inauguration. She is only the fourth poet ever asked to read at an inauguration. One of her books was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize and she has won many awards and honors.

Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry

is where we are ourselves
(though Sterling Brown said

"Every 'I' is a dramatic 'I'"),
digging in the clam flats

for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.

Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the counter,

overhearing on the bus, God
in the details, the only way

to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)

is not all love, love, love,
and I'm sorry the dog died.

Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,

and are we not of interest to each other?

Ars Poetica #100:  I Believe
Elizabeth Alexander

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