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 Date: 1/15/09

Inauguration Poet Has Ties to Smith

  Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander (left), Irish poet Eavan Boland, and Annie Boutelle, founder of the Smith College Poetry Center

Elizabeth Alexander, commissioned by President-elect Barack Obama to compose and read a poem at his inauguration, directed Smith’s Poetry Center in its first two years and was the Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence in 1997-98. Poetry Center Founder Annie Boutelle, senior lecturer in English, recalls the Center’s inaugural reading, by Eavan Boland, which “packed Wright Auditorium to its seams.” “I’ll always be grateful for the splendid work Elizabeth did here at Smith,” Boutelle says.

Alexander, who teaches at Yale, told the New York Times she hopes to create a poem for the inauguration that “attends to the moment” but also “has integrity and life that goes beyond the moment.” She will be only the fourth poet in American history—after Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Miller Williams—to read at a presidential inauguration.


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