Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Elizabeth Alexander ’84

Ever since Robert Frost read “The Gift Outright” at John F. Kennedy’s swearing-in, Democrats have had a thing for inaugural bards. James Dickey turned up for Jimmy Carter, and Maya Angelou and Miller Williams for Bill Clinton. Barack Obama’s choice? Elizabeth Alexander ’84. It was announced on December 17 that Alexander, author of four books of poetry, will read one of her works at Obama’s inauguration on January 20. Alexander’s most recent volume, American Sublime, was one of three finalists for a Pulitzer Prize in 2005, and she won the Jackson Poetry Prize last year. For her day job, Alexander is a professor and chair of African American studies at Yale.

As poets go, she’s also well connected. Her father, Clifford Alexander, was secretary of the army in the Carter administration, and her brother Mark Alexander ’86, ’92JD, was an adviser to the Obama campaign and is working on the transition team.

Filed under poetry, alumnae
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