As much as I love textiles, I equally love well-crafted language, and the art of beautiful, truthful writing and oratory. So part of what makes this inauguration/celebration highly emotional and deeply moving for me is the joy of a return to great speeches, the inclusion of poetry, the amazing power of the right words at the right time, delivered with passion and conviction. On CNN, they've just replayed Martin Luther King's speech - the one that's come to be known as I Have A Dream, though that was not its original title. And I'm happily anticipating both Obama's speech and Michelle's clothes tomorrow, for both of their smiles as they arrive at the end of the beginning, and mostly for the audacity of hope for America, yes indeed, unlike anything I've experienced in my lifetime.
The Washington Post has an essay linking Obama's style of orating with King's and other black preachers. The Root has a Q&A with Elizabeth Alexander, the inaugural poet, who sounds like a delightful woman who is equal parts down-to-earth and lofty. You can read some of her published poems on her lovely Web site.
Poetry is best read aloud; people often feel intimidated by poems, unsure if they're up to the task of appreciating them, but that's because we're woefully underexposed to poetry. Here is Alexander's Ars Poetica #100:
Ars Poetica #100: I Believe
Poetry, I tell my students,
is idiosyncratic. Poetry
is where we are ourselves,
(though Sterling Brown said
“Every ‘I’ is a dramatic ‘I’”)
digging in the clam flats
for the shell that snaps,
emptying the proverbial pocketbook.
Poetry is what you find
in the dirt in the corner,
overhear on the bus, God
in the details, the only way
to get from here to there.
Poetry (and now my voice is rising)
is not all love, love, love,
and I’m sorry the dog died.
Poetry (here I hear myself loudest)
is the human voice,
and are we not of interest to each other?
Whether we find it in poems, speeches, essays, music, stitching, dance, travel, or some other path that gives us both expression and contemplation, we're all searching for rhythm, melody, cadence, pattern, and beauty -- our collective heartbeat and our collective soul.
Edited to add: If your idea of poetry is food, food, food, you might love the Obama Foodorama blog.
Now, I'll feel off-topically guilty if I don't include something more specific about art and textiles. Jennifer Falck Linssen is an artist who uses Japanese katagami and katazome stencils to make inventive, graceful sculptures. As it turns out, she lives not far from me, and has a show opening at a local museum that I hope to see. And I've just discovered Laura Tyler, another locally-based artist who works with encaustic techniques. Laura has an excellent art blog.
I've started another piece with shisha mirrors, beads and stitching; it has a long way to go, but here is the base.
And one more link: I've been reading Eric Weiner's The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. If you've had it with all the preachy "happiness science," this book is your antidote. Though I'm finding it to bog down a little at the end, it's very funny, and very sweet. I was that possibly-insane-looking person laughing out loud on the airplane last week while reading it.