Obama praise song – clearly the most compelling transmedia genre of past months.

Greg transcribes Elizabeth Alexander’s inauguration poem “Praise Song for the Day


All about us is noise.
All about us is noise and bramble,
thorn and din,
each one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons
on an oil drum.
With cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

+ + +

& Heatwave rounds up Caribbean-leaning Obama praise songs.


  1. It was crazy to hear Ms. Alexander’s voice echo through the Capitol Mall and consider that I first heard her on Special Gunpowder.

    Hopefully, if/as the degrees of separation between art and political power diminish, we can someday hear someone such as yourself (or at least an electronic artist) playing at this event.

  2. Don’t wanna be a hater, but in the moment her reading (and by extension, the poem) seemed so pedestrian after getting caught up in the Inaugural address, so filled with muscular phrases.

    Gotta read the two texts again and watch the two readings again to give it a fairer hearing. After all, none of the people in the Mall was there to see Elizabeth Alexander. She had a tough job, a tough act to follow and did not have a team of expert versifiers to help her craft her piece.

    I like her work, seems like a cool person from the folks I know who know her, but so far I’m meh.

  3. check out this dickhead http://blogs.tnr.com/tnr/blogs/the_plank/archive/2009/01/20/adam-kirsch-on-elizabeth-alexander-s-bureaucratic-verse.aspx pretty infuriating, to me anyway, especially when he takes lines out of context like “what if the mightiest word is love?” not to mention the latent racism/sexism/classism of “Alexander was an inevitable choice to be Obama’s laureate. Like Obama, Alexander is an establishment figure-a professor at Yale, a Pulitzer Prize finalist–who is very conscious of the ways she does not fit the usual establishment image–she is a black woman in a field once dominated by white men. Like him, too, she has challenged the establishment by joining it, rather than fighting it.”

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