Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander

September 2014

Yale Professor and inaugural poet of President Obama

Celebrated poet and Yale Professor Elizabeth Alexander, made history as the fourth poet to compose and deliver a poem at a presidential inauguration. The poem, entitled “Praise Song for the Day,” was delivered at the inauguration of President Barack Obama on January 20, 2009. The daughter of a civil rights advisor to President Johnson, Alexander writes about race, gender, immigration, politics and social justice in America. Through her poetry and teaching, she asks students, readers and everyday citizens to reflect on our collective past, present and future as inspiration for change.

Alexander is the author of several books of poetry and essays, including American Sublime, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and an American Library Association “Notable Book of the Year.” Among her many other honors and distinctions, she recently chaired the National Book Awards for poetry and was invited to present Princeton University’s Toni Morrison Lectures.

A dedicated teacher and mentor, often recognized for her teaching excellence, Alexander served as Chair of Yale University’s Department of African American Studies from 2009 to 2013 and currently serves as Yale’s Thomas E. Donnelley Professor of African American Studies. She is a graduate of Yale and Boston University and she earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. Alexander has been frequently featured in the media; her appearances have included the PBS series Faces of America, The Colbert Report and CBS Sunday Morning.

This event is not open to the public.

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