PEN America 7: World Voices features a terrific talk by Alexander on “the relationship of African writers and Africa at large to American writing,” along with two of her poems. The first of these, “The African Picnic,” begins like so:
Obama, by the way, is only the third president to have an inaugural poet: Kennedy selected Frost, Clinton invited Maya Angelou and Miller Williams (whose daughter Lucinda is also a pretty good writer), respectively, to his two inaugurations, and now Obama has invited Elizabeth Alexander.
World Cup finals, France v. Brasil.
We gather in Gideon’s yard and grill.
The TV sits in the bright sunshine.
We want Brasil but Brasil won’t win.
Aden waves a desultory green and yellow flag.
From the East to the West to the West to the East
we scatter and settle and scatter some more.
Through the window, Mama watches from the cool indoors.
(Photo above by George Silk, and taken from Life magazine’s excellent online photo archive.)
PS. Also on the VQR blog, Ted Genoways selects his top ten 2008 poetry collections, a list that includes The Earth in the Attic, by Fady Joudah.