**Robert Blanco, (following in the footsteps of such predecessors such as Maya Angelou and Robert Frost) did a credible job at delivering a poem on Martin Luther King Day in honor of Obama’s inauguration.Blanco is the gay son of Cuban immigrants, and he is the youngest poet ever to deliver a poem for a presidential inauguration. The poem managed to be personal yet universal; and historical and contemporary at the same time.
Fittingly, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it was reminiscent of King’s most famous speeches, and also referred to last month’s shootings in New Town in the line, “the empty desks of twenty children marked absent today, and forever.”
Blanco’s nine-stanza poem, “One Today,” also included references to Blanco’s immigration from Spain, and to his mother, who rang up groceries for 20 years “so I could write this poem,” and his father, who cut sugar cane “so my brother and I could have books and shoes.”
Here are some of Blanco’s own comments on the poem.
**Just as impressive was Martin Espada’s performance on the recent PBS television show “Moyers and Company.” Espada performed a poignant poem about his recently deceased friend, Howard Zinn who passed away recently (in an interview Espada called Zinn “the most decent and generous human being he ever knew.”) Zinn wrote the monumental historical opus, “A People’s History of the United States,” which is taught as a countertext at many universities. Espada’s poem also appears in a recent issue of “The Progressive” magazine.
The show can be seen at http://billmoyers.com/content/martin-espada-on-howard-zinn-and-poetry/
**Calvin Trilling has a new book of delightful and satirical light verse, and it is called “Dogfight.” It’s about the Obama/Romney presidential race and the recent review in New York Times cleverly emulates Trilling’s light verse style. Here’s a link to the review.
***I recently wrote the following Calvinesque humorous poem myself during the Republican nomination.
My Thoughts on the Presidential Candidates by Vittorio Carli
Bachman is a compassionate conservative and tolerant wife
She has been in a successful gay marriage for most of her life
She’s a strict recreationist and a religious right winger
She also thinks Paul Revere was a pro-gun bell ringer
Richard Perry is hard work ‘in Texas based sonovagun
He jogs with a firearm and shoots coyotes for fun
His numbers have gone down significantly that’s true
Not many want to live through George Bush part 2
Mitt Romney flip-flops on his positions all the time
He acts like ideological consistency is a serious crime
When his opponents attack he’ll defend himself with a grin
And we all know it would be hard for a Mormon to win
Sara Palin was the governor of a far off, cold place
She comes off well on TV with her photogenic face
But her attacks on Obama were excessive and mean
She’s less qualified to run the country than Charlie Sheen
The newt’s a slimy, cold blooded creature that dwells in a swamp bed
His contract on America made many progressives and lefties see red
He’s a fearless proponent of traditional values and married life
That’s why he took up with his mistress before dumping his sick wife
Ron Paul has more integrity than all the rest combined
I like his view on the military industrial complex just fine
But his views on FEMA and education are just plain insane
Another run by a promising alternative gone down the drain
Huntsman worked for Barrack but he’s running on the Republican ticket
He often sounds somewhat reasonable and generous not wicked
He’s about three times as smart as Bachman or Perry
This leaves him ten times less likely to win the primary
Herman Cain is a charming, charismatic pizza selling man
He allegedly harasses subordinates whenever he can
His Libyan mind freeze caused many to give him odd looks
He dropped out of the race, so he’ll be able to sell more books
Obama’s first term was unsuccessful and scary
He governs just to the left of Goldwater, Barry
There are many that say he deserves another chance
If he’s the best we can do we should all move to France
**Next Tuesday , Natasha Tretheway, the 19th Poet Laureate will perform at the Poetry Foundation at 63 West Superior at 7 pm. She has authored four collections of poetry including “Native Guard” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. The doors will open 30 minutes early, and admission is free. The program will last approximately one hour.
Natasha Trethewey will also read at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois on Thursday, February 7.