22 January 2009

Stephen Colbert Explains it All for You....

Thanks to The Colbert Report, Elizabeth Alexander conducted a poetry explication session for what was probably the largest class of students in the history of the world last night....

Bravo and Brava!

(A fellow Prufrock Fan!)

21 January 2009

Let us begin.....

"Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off,
and begin again the work of remaking America"

Shortly after noon (EST), the new Whitehouse.gov website appeared.

President Barack Obama's new administration ordered all federal agencies and departments on Tuesday to stop any pending regulations until they can be reviewed by incoming staff, halting last-minute Bush orders in their tracks.

Judge Suspends Guantanamo Cases at Obama's Request

20 January 2009

Welcome this New Day

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply....

Interactive video and transcript

And -- How 'bout That Dress: Wow!!

Praise Song for the Day

A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration

Elizabeth Alexander

Each day we go about our business,

walking past each other, catching each other’s

eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is

noise and bramble, thorn and din, each

one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning

a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,

repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,

with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,

with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer considers the changing sky.

A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words

spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,

words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark

the will of some one and then others, who said

I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.

We need to find a place where we are safe.

We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

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.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.

Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,

the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,

others by first do no harm or take no more

than you need
. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,

love that casts a widening pool of light,

love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,

any thing can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Copyright © 2009 by Elizabeth Alexander. All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of Graywolf Press, Saint Paul, Minnesota. A chapbook edition of Praise Song for the Day will be published on February 6, 2009.

19 January 2009

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President

A Prayer for the Nation and Our Next President, Barack Obama
By The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire

Opening Inaugural Event
Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC
January 18, 2009

Welcome to Washington! The fun is about to begin, but first, please join me in pausing for a moment, to ask God’s blessing upon our nation and our next president.

O God of our many understandings, we pray that you will…

Bless us with tears – for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women from many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

Bless us with anger – at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women, people of color, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and the world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs must always be balanced with those of the world.

Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences, and an understanding that in our diversity, we are stronger.

Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community, whether across town or across the world.

And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

Give him wisdom beyond his years, and inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL the people.

Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

Give him stirring words, for we will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

Give him the strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We know the risk he and his wife are taking for all of us, and we implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


09 January 2009

New Year, New You?

(Soundtrack: Charles Mingus' New Now Know How)

Welcome to 2009! While I don't believe in New Years Resolutions (and since they tend not to last past Groundhog Day), I do like to think about goals, possiblities, things I'm shooting for and would like to accomplish in the coming year. One of the big ones is simply to Finish Things.

I have a lot of ideas, thoughts on scraps of paper, projects in various stages of (in)completion -- if I just decided to go ahead and finish some of these darned things, I'd look like one of the most productive mamby-pambys in the universe! It's easy to see how some of these things, both at work and at home, began to pile up. Sometimes the idea of doing them proved more interesting than the actual execution. Some things were just dropped on me, and no one likes to do things they really don't want to do. Various "I need this now!" items showed up, pushing other projects to the side.

And sometimes I just got scared. I didn't think I could do them. Or do them well. Or these items had to be "perfect" (an interesting insight I heard toward the end of 2008 was how perfectionism often leads to procrastination). Done is better than Not Done: Finished is better than Perfect -- especially if it's going to take forever to make it perfect. And there's always the 'revision process' and going back and improving things and making them better later.

So that's it, my Big Hairy Goal for 2009 summed up in two words: Finish it! We'll see how that goes.

Here's another Goal, or perhaps better put, a mantra for the new year, from Zen Habits blogger Leo Babuta: Stop waiting for happiness. Happiness is right here, right now. An interesting thought with intriguing, life altering implications.