All posts by Randy Malamud

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The Hazards of Inaugural Poetry

For the sixth time in presidential history, a poet was invited to participate in the inaugural festivities. With the exception of Lyndon Johnson, every Democrat since John F. Kennedy—and no Republican—has had an inaugural poet. Make of that fact what you will.

A few “occasional poems” (that is, poems specifically tailored to a given occasion) have survived the test of time: Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” W. B. Yeats’s “A Prayer for my Daughter.” Most, t…