While many individuals were drawn to the aspect of Obama’s Inauguration in which he made open references to the importance of gender equality and immigration, others were drawn to the import of the literary piece read by Richard Blanco during the procession. Entitled “One Today,” this important poem may offer Americans some insights regarding the ideological import that 2012 will have.
The historical relationship between poetry and politics in the United States is undeniable. From Robert Frost’s recitation of his poem “The Gift Outright” at JFK’S inauguration to Maya Angelou’s reading of her “On The Pulse of Morning” when Bill Clinton entered office, Americans are accustomed to witnessing the dawn of new governments articulated with fresh metaphors and allusions from some of the country’s most celebrated poets. Yet Blanco’s recitation at the 2012 Inauguration of Obama seems to have set a profound and progressive precedent for the country. With inclusive rhetoric communicated with fresh language that unveiled the genius of its author, Blanco’s words pointed towards a new America whose representations and values will be marked by one cohesive theme: transcendental unity. From his reference to morning greetings that can be expressed as “hello,” “shalom,” or “buenos días” to the assertion that MLK Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech is the one we keep dreaming, Blanco’s prose-like poetry narrates the onset of an inclusive America where people from diverse backgrounds can coexist peacefully. His articulation of an inclusive ideology does not stop here, however. In breaking down the wall erected by divisive religious rhetoric, Blanco notes that there exist many prayers, but “one light breathing color into stained glass windows” (l. 22,23). Here, the hope of religious pluralism reigns.
What, if anything, does Blanco’s poem mean? Although his multifaceted and fundamentally multicultural philosophy reflects the sentiment of many Americans, it is certainly not representative of the paradigms that guide the actions and attitudes of every U.S. citizen. Yet the poem has an inalienable power and primacy rooted in the fact that it now exists as a symbolic representation of the ideological framework that may shape the policies of the President. Personally, I view these developments in an entirely positive light.
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Poetry and Political Parties: On Allen Ginsber’s “Wichita Vortex Sutra” and the Vietnam War
Jocelyn Crawley holds B.A. degrees in English and Religious Studies. Her work has appeared in Jerry Jazz Musician, Nailpolish Stories, Visceral Uterus, Four and Twenty, Dead Beats and Haggard and Halloo. Other stories are forthcoming in Faces of Feminism and Calliope.