Did you all hear Richard Blanco read “One Today” at the inauguration on Tuesday? I always really love it when presidents choose to include a poem in the inauguration program, and I thought Blanco’s poem was breathtaking. If you missed it, you can read the full text and see a video of the reading here.
I first saw Blanco’s inauguration reading on ABC, and I was startled and disheartened to see that the network chose to scroll tweets about the poem while Blanco was still in the process of reading it. It felt so deeply disruptive — not only to this particular reading, but to the enterprise that poetry undertakes. Poetry feels like one of the few places we can still turn for more sustained reflection. One of the few places that can provide us with the distance (from scrolling news feeds and user comments, among other sensory and informational input) necessary to transport ourselves and our thinking about our world.
The scrolling twitter comments felt like an assault, and I had to close my eyes in order to escape them. Even then, I couldn’t completely reimmerse after that intrusion.
Because of that, it wasn’t until I could get the written text of Blanco’s poem that I fully appreciated that last stanza. That unnamed constellation. Stunning, Mr. Blanco. Thank you.