Elizabeth Alexander, American Sublime, (St. Paul, MN: Graywolf Press), 2005.
Reading Elizabeth Alexander's poems is taking trip through African American history from the Amsted to the present day. Emancipation, the Civil Rights struggle, and the everyday lives of urban black people are all covered in her verse. But it would be a mistake to think of this only as African American poetry. It is indeed poetry of the whole of the nation, for the story she tells a story that belongs to all Americans - a story that needs to be told freshly in each generation.
With remarkable economy of words, Alexander tells our story in speaking words - words meant to be recited out loud.
I sense a bit of the preacher in her writing. The keen awareness of rhythm and pitch that makes African American preaching so compelling seems to come through her words. I'll be reading more of Alexander's poems in the years to come.