Of the five poets who have read at presidential inaugurations since JFK first invited Robert Frost in 1961, all the POTUS poesy has been made for Democrats. To supply the official poem this year, President Obama has chosen the poet Richard Blanco, a gay American of Cuban descent named after–wait for it–President Nixon (Nixon was a Castro nemesis, before he was ours). Blanco shall sing the electoral body electric.
He’ll be only the fifth poet to perform at a US presidential inauguration, if you don’t include the greatest one, Lincoln. After Frost came Maya Angelou, Miller Williams and Elizabeth Alexander. Each of them must have had their own versions of what Blanco told NPR he feels: “just thinking about my parents and my grandparents and all the struggles they’ve been through, and how, you know, here I am, first-generation Cuban-American, and this great honor that has just come to me, and just feeling that sense of just incredible gratitude and love.” Poets all know, as Angelou did, why the caged bird sings.