The poem. It wasn’t good. It would have been nice if it was good, but it just wasn’t. Or, to be generous, the poem itself might have been okay (if a bit milquetoast) but the delivery was really poor. Listless and timid, like someone dipping their toe into the water and discovering that it’s just a little too cold. I haven’t read anything else of hers, though people I trust say it’s occasionally quite good. Still, what we heard yesterday was not.
That said, I can understand how difficult it is to try and write a poem for the inauguration. The whole idea of just knocking something like that out, that won’t come off as contrived or silly or out of line with the feeling of the moment seems difficult to fathom. All of which makes me think the very practice of having an inaugural poet is probably a mistake. Witness the garbage Robert Frost produced – and thankfully wasn’t able to read, thus resorting to reciting a much better poem from memory.
But still, if you’re going to invite someone, why limit yourself to “poetry”? I was thinking today about what might have actually captured the mood. My conclusion, this song:
Marrow – Ani DiFranco
and so one by one i am dusting off labels
i am uncorking bottles and filling up cups
so go ahead and have a taste of your own medicine
and i’ll have a taste of mine
but first let’s toast to the lists
that we hold in our fists
of the things that we promise to do
differently next time
cuz the answer came like a shot in the back
while you were running from your lesson
which might explain
why years later all you could remember
was the terror of the question
plus i’m not listening to you anymore
my head is too sore and my heart’s perforated
and i’m mired in the marrow of my (well… ain’t that) funny bone
learning how to be alone and devastated
where was my conscience?
where was my consciousness?
and what do i do with all these letters
that i wrote to myself
but cannot address?
Or, if you wanted to go a different direction, how about The Blue Scholars? You’d be guaranteed of getting something that would revel in the rhythm of life – none of this wishy-washy, tepid, blandness.
Butter&Gun$ (Loyalty 2) – Blue Scholars
Check out the section about 2:00 in. That’s some good stuff. Almost enough to make me not feel depressed that even The Blue Scholars have embraced auto-tune.