Wednesday, November 05, 2008

President-Elect Barack Obama in Chicago



For the text of this remarkable speech, here's a link. Clearly, its high point is his narration of the life of Ann Nixon Cooper, the 106-year-old Atlanta black woman who voted that day -- and whose life encapsulates all the changes wrought over the last century, in particular the struggle of blacks and of women in America. Barack or his speechwriters came up with a stroke of genius with that one. Americans elected a friend to poetry last night. The world is better for it. Now, as has been said by many, the real work begins.

8 comments:

R. W. Watkins said...

I noticed The New York Times carried five poems by five poets (including John Ashberry) as an op-ed response to the American election outcome. Can you imagine a major newspaper or newsmagazine in this rapidly declining country inviting five of us to poetically comment on our recent election?!! I'm increasingly glad that at least I got to have a say in the form of my KCN pages, albeit a limited say, indeed.

Brian Campbell said...

That was good instincts on the part of the NYT. Of course, our insipid election wouldn't have inspired encomiums from poets, and I imagine these were all, more or less, encomiums.

But sober second thoughts will soon prevail after the euphoria passes. Obama is still a centrist product of this system, and in terms of much of the worst of military policy, promises business as usual... although, to a limited degree, his mind seems more open to negotiation than the previous cowboy/gangsters that ran the White House. For some perceptive commentary, see this morning's broadcast on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!"

Anonymous said...

Bravo Brian,
Brilliant link. Incredible speach. And I strongly agree abour this 106 years old woman. He began with "change" just before the Alabama's woman, and actualy you can feel him on his HIGH PIC. You know me and I don't know or understand anything about poetry. I do admire it, I like your works, but I don't understand it how it works and why Obama will support poems ? Didn't get it, but it's OK.
I realised two things though, first everything started long time ago and not as Obama said, but with a "I have a dream....", black people have always had brilliant leaders, but this leader is the grown sense of this born dream. And you know what, it CAN'T happen in CONSERVATIVE AND VERY PRECAUTIOUS EUROPE, is it possible in Canada, I don't think so...
Only in a country which is not afraid to take challenges, do mistakes, to grew up. I admire them for that. That power doesn't existe elsewhere, only in this continent. What supprises me too, is these big expectations, why ?, Why nobody is saying, ok look in what position USA are after BUSH, they only say, there is a lot to do, is he capable of ? Comment people give him a break, a change doesn't take seconds it takes years. Look at the phrase "I have a dream...." it took so many years to become reality. So he is there, he'll change a lot of things, but he needs support as much as the "requirements" and the "expectations" from all of us, media, congress, and nevertheless people, surtout the art people as you.
Finally, I'm quite happy, and I won't juge him even if he fails as a president, I'll rather blame the ex-guy.
I can't even vote in Canada yet, next year may be......

Svilen

R. W. Watkins said...

Speaking of the NYT, Brian, you were aware, of course, that Mary-Kate and Ashley are now officially the new Harold Bloom and Pauline Kael...?

http://papercuts.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/11/03/the-anxiety-of-infuence/#more-763

Not sure how I feel about this, but I love the other readers' comments!

Brian Campbell said...

I heard some "grey eminence" commentator on FOX news saying in all seriousness that the media has been totally unfair to Sarah Palin, that all she would have be is coached for a few hours about geography and political structures and she would have all it takes to lead the world.

I'm not sure what the connection is with these little pixies, but I'm quite sure there is one.

Brian Campbell said...

Svilen --

re: I don't know or understand anything about poetry. I do admire it...but I don't understand it how it works and why Obama will support poems ? Didn't get it, but it's OK.

The fact that you were deeply moved by the speech shows all the intuitive understanding that is is necessary.

Back when he was an undergraduate, Barack tried his hand at poetry -- and as the post above shows, his efforts weren't half bad. It's true that one can find examples of tyrants who wrote verse too, and then turned absolutely cruel -- but I have a certain faith that genuine appreciation for the beauty and subtleties of language, as well profound focus on human feeling and individual suffering shown in that student verse, in his autobiographies and this speech, bodes extremely well for a compassionate presidency. Artists are, by and large, life-affirming free thinkers -- and unlike the Bushes and Harpers of the world, who would prefer to undercut and marginalize the arts -- even demonize them -- I think this man could create a much more happy and nurturing climate for the arts, creativity, mutual appreciation and dialogue, etc.

Actually, re expectations, which are naturally very high, it being such a relief that Bush/Cheney (not to mention McCain/Palin) will soon be out of the picture -- what I was saying was that we can't let them ride too high. Bush has pretty well sacked the pantry, left the shelves bare. Obama's pronouncements, however, that he will intensify war in Afghanistan and Pakistan do concern me, as does the appointment of such a hawkish figure as Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff -- although it might turn out to be an inspired appointment in the end. It sends a signal to certain powers not to mess with Obama, in any case.

Anonymous said...

As I can understand Obama will be a "poetry" president. May be he is all that you just described. And probably Obama will stimulate creativity, mutual appreciation and dialogue between all people and all nations. Artist are free thinkers until they don't sell their art to commercial purpose, ref. LILA R.Pirsig.

I don't know why you are so afraid about Pakistan and Afganistan. I don't think that he'll go with another long war proces. But his speach and the one of McCain about Russia in the TV debate, showed misunderstanding and totally "deplacé" (displaced ?correct me if I'm wrong, sorry...) ideas of a great nation which is growing in power slowly but surely.
In this globalisation, we only seem to exchange "workpower", and artists like you miss opportunities to share, exchange knowledge and ideas with the other parts of the world. At my job, quebecors were afraid of Pakistan, Russia and etc. they still live in the old days. It is not real to think that someone has an idea to destroy or attack USA, I don't believe it. And if Obama won this election thanks to facebook.com strategy guy, I rather belive that finally Internet power could be used for more positive purpose don't you think ?
Still, 64-66% of americans voted and it was a record !!! Honestly, it is so far from political understanding of the ex-situation (cowboy Bush). So their system is working, less educated people, less free thinkers and less voters.
Part One of the song Imagine-J.Lenon has happened. I hope we live long enough to complete the other parts :)....dreamers....
Svilen

Brian Campbell said...

The reason I'm concerned about Af. & Pak. is that he pledged very forcefully to invade those countries. I'm hoping this is one campaign promise he breaks.