December 22, 2008

“The perfect poet?”

John Timpane’s glowing review of Obama inauguration poet Elizabeth Alexander in the Philly Inquirer is, well, just that – glowing:

"Elizabeth Alexander may turn out to be the perfect inaugural poet," says Al Young, California's poet laureate from 2005 to 2008.

"To me, she arrives at the perfect hour," says Aaron Fagan, poet and editor at Scientific American.

"Her selection really affirms our generation of American poets in ways that will resonate for a long time to come," says Herman Beavers, an associate professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, fellow poet, and longtime friend.

Brent Colburn, an Obama inaugural spokesperson, calls the poet "incredibly gifted" and says her selection "demonstrates the important role that the arts and literature can play in helping to bring our country together."

Based on Colburn’s assessment, there doesn’t seem that much controversial about Ms. Alexander, right? But if you read Timpane’s article carefully, you might get an inkling that something’s up. For instance, Aaron Fagan added to his quote (from above) that Alexander was "also a surprising choice, not at all polite or safe." Why might that be? We don’t know; Timpane doesn’t elucidate. All he notes is that “Alexander's poetry fits Obama's politics in taking a view of race and culture that will challenge Americans of all backgrounds,” and says “that's very American, as is her powerful directness.”

“Not at all polite or safe?” “Powerful directness?” Gee, thanks for being so cryptic, Mr. Timpane.

As could expected from a liberal hack newspaper like the Inquirer, it doesn’t want to do anything to … smudge The Messiah’s upcoming inaugural. That is, unless it’s an opportunity to rip his choice of a speaker like the Rev. Rick Warren. So, it looks like it’s up to an outfit like Newsbusters to fill ‘yas in. As contributor Colleen Raezler points out, we now know just why Ms. Alexander isn’t “polite or safe”:

Her poem "The Venus Hottentot" is about black female exploitation and contains the line, "her genitalia will float inside a labeled pickling jar." And: "Since my own genitals are public I have made other parts private." And: "I am a black cutout against a captive blue sky, pivoting nude so the paying audience can view my naked buttocks." And, most notably, this:

“In this newspaper lithograph, my buttocks are shown swollen and luminous as a planet.

Monsieur Cuvier investigates between my legs, poking, prodding, sure of his hypothesis.

I half expect him to pull silk scarves from inside me, paper poppies, then a rabbit.”

And there’s more. Just check out the NB link.

Raezler also shows which other MSM outlets (like the Inquirer) have ignored Alexander’s … “colorful” language. And why not? Such lingo is bound to only be upsetting to conservatives. And not only that, but, again, they’re way too busy detailing what a hateful bigot Rick Warren is and how his inclusion in Obama’s inaugural is “intolerant” and “insensitive” … and how Obama has “betrayed” his “progressive” supporters.

Posted by Hube at December 22, 2008 06:24 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Hmmm...not sure which would be worse. This "incredibly gifted poet" (???) or Ms. Angelou (again). Seems that in our falling-over-backward for unity, diversity. pseudo-intellectualism we've taken one too many bumps on the noggin. Mind you, I'm no fan of Rick Warren, either. Why the hell didn't we give Ron Paul a real chance?

Posted by: Nancy Cleveland at December 22, 2008 08:50 PM

I hear 'ya, Nance. I'm no fan of Warren (see my earlier post), but the gist of this post is the always-too-obvious double standard when reporting on "controversial" folks.

Posted by: Hube at December 22, 2008 08:54 PM