Inaugural poet

Poet Elizabeth Alexander has been chosen to write and read a poem in honor of Barak Obama's Presidential inauguration. Her selection has been lauded by fellow poets because of her writing about civil rights from the standpoint of the ordinary person but with surprising twists. Alexander is curently a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. She has been the first chairperson of the poetry center at Smith College and has held posts at other universities including Haverford College and the University of Chicago. Rita Dove, a former U.S. poet laureate, says of Alexander's poetry: "Her poems bristle with the irresistible quality of a world seen fresh." Following are the first two stanzas of her poem, "Ladders" which tells of an experience of racism in an unexpected place:

by Elizabeth Alexander

Filene's department store
near nineteen-fifty-three:
An Aunt Jemima floor
display. Red bandanna,

Apron holding white rolls
of black fat fast against
the bubbling pancakes, bowls
and bowls of pale batter.