President -Elect, Barack Obama promises Jazz, Classical music and Poetry readings in the white house.

The new president- elect of The United States, Barack Obama, on Monday night(8th Dec),during a Meet the Press interview at the NBC newsroom, announced that he plans to open up the white house to the people by having Jazz, classical musicians as well as poets perform there regularly.

He explained: “Part of what we want to do is to open up the White House and remind people this is the people’s house.”
Obama plans to invite artists and scientists on a regular basis, in an attempt to inspire national character.
He further explained; “Thinking about the diversity of our culture and inviting jazz musicians, and classical musicians, and poetry readings in the White House so that once again we appreciate this incredible tapestry that’s America, you know, that, I think, is going to be incredibly important, particularly because we’re going through hard times,”

Whether or not poetry readings will happen in the White House remains to be seen, but this inclusion of the arts alongside science certainly is encouraging. Of course while in college, Obama entertained the idea of being a writer, and indeed his two memoirs has both garnered critical acclaim and topped bestsellers lists. (I have not read either, but Dreams from My Father is on my reading list.) A literary president! Who would have thought?

This also makes me wonder if the Obama White House will have some influence over the selection of the next Poet Laureate. Traditionally, the Poet Laureate is appointed by the Librarian of Congress (currently James H. Billington for you trivia types) but this is one instance where I wouldn’t mind an expansion of Executive power.

The United States is noted for it contribution to poetry development since the days of slavery. Indeed poets like Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Robert Frost, Gwendolyn Brooks, E.E Cummings and many more have constantly redefined poetry.
Hip Hop Mogul, Russel Simmons produced a poetry show dubbed ‘Def Poetry Jam‘ that brings together the diverse poets of various origins living in the US. The full 6 seasons was aired on Prime time on HBO.

There is already a debate online as to who should be the inaugural poet for President-elect Obama.

Barack Obama is a poet himself, an inspiring and eloquent public speaker, and poetry is sure to be a part of his Presidential inauguration ceremony. Robert Frost recited a poem at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, Maya Angelou read for Bill Clinton’s, and folks are already speculating on who will be Obama’s poet:

It is however good to note that Barack Obama is not the first American Poet-President. The Atlantic magazine published a poem penned by that other President from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln, a “rollicking ballad” called “The Bear Hunt”:
I think that this is the kind of support that the Arts need most locally. If only we had a poetic president in Kenya, then poets would also be appreciated more to even appear during public functions like the upcoming Jamhuri day.
Don’t you just pray for that day.

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Showcasing the best in Kenyan Arts;Music,writing,Poetry,fine art and art reviews as well as info on emerging art trends. “Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite…getting something down.”