In honor of Independence Day, here is the poem Richard Blanco read for President Obama’s inauguration.  Afterwards: commentary from Contemporary Poetry Review. 


Richard Blanco

One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.

Read rest of poem by Richard Blanco at ABC News


If the poem read at President Obama’s second inauguration fails to inspire….a golden age of verse, Obama surely bears some blame. His inauguration committee was apparently more motivated by political than aesthetic concerns.

-Joel Gehrke, “No Justice Done to Poetry at the Inauguration: On Richard Blanco”Contemporary Poetry Review, March 1, 2013


The epideictic poem, a genre that long ago should have faded with monarchies into total obsolescence, runs counter to our libertarian heritage and asks our poets to perform a civic task the tradition has ill prepared them for.

Such ubiquitous failure, rather than a national disgrace, should be cause for celebration.

-Robert Bernard Hass, “Praising Athenians in Athens: On the Failures of the American Ceremonial Poem” Contemporary Poetry Review, May 7, 2013


Perhaps, though, we can finally dispense with these tiresome discussions about whether or not poetry is dead, in a coma, too politically correct, and all the rest. If Blanco’s lackluster poem gives us that, he will have done poetry a great service.

-Quincy Lehr, “The Richard Blanco Debate,”Contemporary Poetry Review, April 3, 2013