My guess is tens of thousands of poets wrote poems about Barack Obama when he was running to become president of the United States and they probably kept on writing up until his inauguration. Aberjhani wouldn’t stand out so much if he just wrote a couple of nice poems about Obama, he stands out because he published some strong blogs during the campaign. As for the poems, I counted three either written about Obama or dedicated to him some kinda way. The one called There Upon a Bough of Hope and Audacity was published in a newspaper during inauguration week and besides Elizabeth Alexander I don’t know how poets actually had their tribute poems published in a magazine or newspaper. This pages ends with a short blog that I borrowed from Aberjhani because it’s him talking about connections between his writing and Obama better than I can.
“Songbird of speckled feathers and new millennium eyes,
you trill notes of democratic vistas heavy with light.
Chords of miraculous notions enrich your blessed voice
with strength to sing dreams into deeds well done.”
–from There Upon a Bough of Hope and Audacity
“On August 27, I sat spellbound watching the 6:30 evening news as our great Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton stood with her New York State colleagues and officially pronounced Barack Obama as the 2008 Democratic Presidential Nominee. I don’t know what made me think of all those African Americans who in the past had left their country because they feared that to remain here would cost them their sanity or their lives. But I did think about them very hard and before I knew it there were tears rolling down my face.”
–from Why I Cried When Barack Obama Received the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States
“On faith’s battered back
calm eyes etch prayers that cool
a nation’s hot rage.”
–from Midnight Flight of the Poetry Angels
Published in the "Savannah Tribune"
Aberjhani inauguration poem “There Upon a Bough of Hope and Audacity” in the Savannah Tribune.
“The power of this poet-likely-to-become president first won the world’s attention at the Democratic Convention in 2004. Even that event could have been described as “improbable” but it stands now as a fact of recorded history. Between that history-making speech and Presidential Candidate Obama’s bestselling books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, two things become clear about the power of eloquence. It is not simply melodious syllables or beautiful fury disguised as poetic art. In the hands and heart of a sincere individual seeking to serve the common good, it can represent truth, vision, and clarity empowered by strength, destiny, and intelligence.”
–from The Rise of the Poet Most Likely to Become President
“Watching the NBC evening news on Sunday (Feb 24, 2008) I was more than a little shocked when a critic of U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama stated that Obama had no chance of winning against the Republicans in his bid for the White House for this reason: “He’s a poet, not a fighter.”
“Wow. Why, I wondered, was this gentleman under the impression that poets know nothing about fighting?”
-from The Poet Who Would Be President
THE POLITICS OF THE MUSE
AND THE LIGHT THAT NEVER DIES
“In my recent GRITS.com interview with Marlive Harris and Luther E. Vann, I mentioned two poems in connection to presidential candidate Barack Obama. One was Midnight Flight of the Poetry Angels and the other was this poem, The Light That Never Dies:
And now we step
to the rhythm of miracles.
The time of light is upon us
pillowing its weary gray head
upon the pearl-gray shoulders of mountains.
Having known our souls too intimately
grief turns away now
like a false lover burned
The naked sentry
of a single true integrity
salutes the bold unfurling
of dignity’s simple flag.
Fear crawls into the shadows
of the damned and wretched.
Peace blossoms like moonlight.
In the depths of a night
steaming and fetid with blood
men and women stand strong together,
their eyes dancing among the saints,
their hearts singing for the angels.
(by Aberjhani From ELEMENTAL The Power of Illuminated Love)
“None were more surprised than me when I actually recited The Light That Never Dies because even though I had already started to identify the poem with Obama’s presidential run, I had not realized that I felt so strongly about it until speaking the words. What I neglected to mention during the interview, however, was that The Light That Never Dies was first published in I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, then later in ESSENCE Magazine to commemorate those lives lost on September 11, 2001. My identification of the poem with Obama’s bid for the presidency grew out of respect for the sense of hope and inspiration that he has instilled in so many—even some of those described as his “enemies.”
“My posts of the poem Midnight Flight of the Poetry Angels actually feature a quote from Obama’s memoir, Dreams from My Father. The odd thing is that even though this poem is a direct tribute to Obama and his supporters, the spark of inspiration that gave it life came mostly from Walt Whitman’s masterful poem, “O Captain! My Captain!” Obviously, the two works are very different, in style as well as intent. Whitman’s great elegy was written in honor of the life and death of Abraham Lincoln following the great president’s assassination. My poem, a chain of variations on the haiku, seeks to pay tribute to both Obama’s political daring and the American people’s collective hope for a better future.
“The description of Obama as one manifestation of Martin Luther King’s great dream has become commonplace in 2008; but in a lot of ways he is also the inevitable outcome of Lincoln’s uncompromised vision of, and love for, his country. In any event, both of them––and Whitman too for that matter––strike me as channels for a kind of light that never dies, one of beautiful human courage, enduring faith, and steadfast dignity.”