Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Poetry jam comes to the White House

It is probably safe to say that Tuesday’s event may well have been the first White House poetry jam, the fast-paced presentation of spoken verse that has become popular among young people in cities across the country.

So said Rachel L. Swarns in a post on the New York Times web site.

Poetry jam in the White House? That is cool.

The event included Hawaiian poet Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio; Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator of the Tony-Award winning Broadway musical, “In the Heights;” husband-wife writers Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman; Chicago poet Maida del Valle; some guy named James Earl Jones; musician Esperanza Spaulding; Yonkers, N.Y., poet Joshua Brandon Bennett.

“We’re here to celebrate the power of words and music to help us appreciate beauty and also to understand pain,’’ Mr. Obama told the crowd.

Mrs. Obama urged her guests to “enjoy, have fun and be loose” as they absorbed performances from Hawaiian, Puerto Rican, Jewish and African American writers in an event intended to showcase the diversity of American talent.

This was just one of a series of events that the Obamas have put on at the White House to celebrate the arts.

Other events have featured bagpipers, mariachi bands, Irish fiddlers, Irish Poets (i.e. Paul Muldoon), and singers and musicians such as Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Earth Wind and Fire, Tony Bennett, and Fergie, the singer from the Black Eyed Peas.

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