Western welcomes Obama inaugural poet to campus

DANBURY, CONN. —“In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun. On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp, praise song for walking forward in that light.”

Those words are the last stanza from “Praise Song for the Day,” written by Elizabeth Alexander, the inaugural poet for President Barack Obama. On Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2011, Alexander will be at Western Connecticut State University to share her inspiring words. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be at 7 p.m. in the Ives Concert Hall in White Hall on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. A book signing will follow.

Describing her work as vivid and colorful, Carolyn Lanier, chief diversity officer in the university’s Multicultural Affairs & Affirmative Action Office, said that Alexander “makes poetry accessible. I like the word ‘accessible’ for her because she evokes memories and makes connections and people can understand the story she is telling.”

Lanier, who invited Alexander, believes that students, faculty and the public all will benefit from the event, which is designed to celebrate both Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March. “I hope she piques their interest in poetry and also in learning more about the African-American experience,” Lanier said.

Alexander, chairman of the department of African American studies at Yale, is the first recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellowship for work that “contributes to improving race relations in American society and furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision of 1954.” She also is the 2007 winner of the first Jackson Prize for Poetry, awarded by Poets and Writers. Other awards include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, two Pushcart Prizes, the George Kent Awards and a Guggenheim fellowship. Most recently, Alexander was named an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winner for her lifetime achievement in poetry.

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.


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