Monday, January 21, 2013

365 Poems: The Unofficial, Crowd-Sourced Inaugural Poem

Day 21

It's live and online -- and you can listen now! The 'Unofficial, Crowd-Sourced Inaugural Poem,' as curated by radio show 'The Takeaway' and inspired by poet Kwame Dawes's first line.

My lines are numbers five and six, read by me: 'In the hurly-burly of the day's governing/ remember the freedom of peace.' I think my voice is also used near the end.

I had just written two collaborative poems during my Gotham Writer's Workshop session, and really enjoyed the exercise. To see the process at work on a large-scale level, using social media, was exciting and inspiring.

Listen, and let me know how you like the poem:



A People's Poem for the Inauguration
Say "nation." In the wake of quarrels, say "hope."
Be not divisive nor divided.
Say "neighbor." Say, "What can I do?"
Doors open. Together walk through.
In the hurly-burly of the day's governing
remember the freedom of peace.
At the dawn of uncertain tomorrows, say "change."
While darkness floods our spirit, say "light" and shatter
all our scattering shadows.
Dream, "neighbor." In the face of fear, sing, "mercy."
Hear unity from voices that speak.
Say that freedom, both the blessing and right,
remain the provenance of open minds.
Acknowledge the dreams that birthed a great nation — say "freedom."
Speak it into action and watch our dreams reshape the future.
And heart in hand, for the sake of the young,
of the old,
of all those who
wade thru injustice's tide, say "freedom."
Say and shout and sing! Progress is a storm and our voices the thunder.
Say "peace" for the hearts of a nation's people, in times of grief.
Say one, say all. To abandon hope is to further the fall
Say "take my hand" to the downtrodden, the lost.
Sing harmonies that blend in a spectrum of love.
In the dark of failures, say "try"; encourage, persist to light.
Say friend, my hand for your strength, your eyes for my light as we forward together.
Say hope is ours.
Wash away morose pessimism and the failings of the nascent.
Remember our virtue; remember our lofty intent.
In the wake of the struggle, speak, so that together we all may speak courage.
Say "hope," eyes turned not to the gauzy sky
nor to the brassy gates of power
but to the frost-bitten grass beneath our feet.
I need to hear, again, those antiquated words
in this new light.

Special thanks to our contributors: @kwamedawes@bdnecktieguy, @PhoebeSaffold, @CathyBlogs, @tjmckay84, @BelliAndrew, @buddyerkin, @cordycepent, @Ternespt, @mFauntleroy, @samijenkis, @karinstorm, @roxyrazors, @alemanrb, @JetS165101, @superflippy, @gastonian, @RubyBastille, @DanielFarias, @DaleDorlin, @Brent_Newsom, and @joyjaco.

Produced by:

Jay Cowit and Mythili Rao


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