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Praise Song for the Day Hardcover – February 21, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A moving pictorial elegy.” (Publishers Weekly)

“With the 2012 presidential election coming up, it is good to look back and recall the historical significance of the 2008 vote that resulted in the election of our first African American president. This is a book that can and should make that happen.” (School Library Journal)

Book Description

A stylish collectible edition of Elizabeth Alexander’s 2009 inaugural poem. This elegant chapbook is printed on uncoated stock, with a silver foil stamp, French flaps, and includes a complete author bio. A cherished reminder of this historic presidential event. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 5
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books; First edition (February 21, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061926639
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061926631
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.4 x 11.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,966,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Foster Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
Here is the poem "Praise Song For The Day" that Elizabeth Alexander read at the Obama inauguration, shorter than either of the prayers offered and briefer and better than "A Rock, A River, A Tree," the poem that Maya Angelou read at Bill Clinton's first inauguration although both poems-- even though Ms. Alexander does not use the word-- are about hope, as is the poem from the second Clinton inauguration, "Of History and Hope," by Miller Williams. It is not unusual that hope is a recurring theme in all these poems since we as U. S. citizens get all fired up every four years, believing that our new president can make a difference. That Ms. Alexander should focus on hope is even more appropriate as Mr. Obama's two mantras during his campaign were hope and change.

The poem begins with a variety of individuals going about their daily business-- working, making music, then progresses quickly to hope: "I know there's something better down the road." Ms. Alexander then gets to the heart of the matter, that we have elected the first African American president:

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

The poem then moves to a praise song for struggle and finishes with the subject of love. Alexander asks the question: "What if the mightiest word is love?"-- a love that "casts a widening pool of light." The poem concludes with "praise song for walking forward in that light.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really appreciate this title that commemorates President Barack Obama's Inauguration. It is an inspiration. Too bad that the shipping cost more than the product.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My favorite Inaugural Poet and favorite inaugural poem of all time! Alexander is an amazing Poet!
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Format: Paperback
In a word: mediocre. Yes, this will disappoint devotees and debutantes, but, away from the politics of it all, the poem was not a strongly written piece. It is with sadness I post this review.

While I love a poem filled with descriptive images, Alexander chose unimaginative cliches to show America. She presented no nuance, no color, nothing that is more than a prosaic poem not fit for a high school talent contest.

She looked for meaning, then scraped it clean of impact and influence before committing her idea to paper.

Who or what is she praising? A day? The definition of praise here is uniformly unpointed, as a day has no power. If the day has power, then it becomes a god, with a kind of omnipotent power.

"A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, 'Take out your pencils. Begin.'" So what? Farmers do that. Teachers do that. She neither tells us something new, nor gives us insight about their action.

Her attempt to summon the spirit of Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman fails with, "Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks..." as her song has no notes.

She suggests, "Some live by 'Love thy neighbor as thy self.'" Is she suggesting others do not want to live by that, living entirely selfishly? That's hardly an Obaminian thought.

"Love that casts a widening pool of light." Love, here, is a living entity, after she tries to explain what love looks like in vague terms.

Praise changes from a thing to an action, clunking on the ground as the listener hums the platonic, monotonous drumbeat, "On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light."

All of Obama's passion was passed in Alexander's poem. It will be quoted because it was read at an inauguration, but for no other reason.

--Brockeim
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Format: Paperback
This brief (one long poem) paperback in a Greek blue and formal cover from Professor Alexander's old publisher Graywolf merits its humble, small space upon every shelf in America.

I recall the great Robert Frost (The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged) delivering the JFK Inaugural Poem, a reworking of an earlier work. I wonder who would have presented the Second JFK Inaugural Poem, and those of his family to come.

I remember the mighty Maya Angelou (The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou) delivering with great yearning, joy and power an Inaugural Poem (or was it a dream I had fulfilled?) and prayed she may here again, our President once being based in Chicago, where Ms. Angelou herself always found a welcome home. I guess Aretha Amazing Grace: The Complete Recordings was sufficient for this day, from our boomer generation.

And once for Maya was enough, and so we have, from our President's high academic territory, Professor of Poetry Elizabeth Alexander, our fourth Inaugural Poet.

Who is lacking from this brief list?

Professor Alexander originated in Washington DC and reportedly watched from shoulder tops the Reverend Doctor MArtin Luther King, Jr., deliver his well-known, eternal poetry from the steps of the Lincoln Monument. Such oration must certainly inspire a young poetess, forming those young bones.
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