Cuban poet says `Namaste' to voice message of 'one' America

Last Updated: Tue, Jan 22, 2013 06:50 hrs

Washington, Jan 22 (IANS) The Indian greeting of "Namaste" was among the salutations chosen by Cuban poet Richard Blanco to voice the message of 'one' America in his inaugural poem for President Barack Obama.

Reading his poem, "One Today" at Obama's swearing-in ceremony Monday, Blanco, 44, also made history as the first Latino, first openly gay poet and the youngest to ever recite an inaugural poem.

Blanco's poem spoke to the mundane life and experiences Americans share, from the classroom where teachers write up equations on chalkboards to the grief the nation felt when 20 children's lives were taken in the Sandy Hook massacre.

One section of the poem read:

"Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,

or whispers across cafe tables, Hear: the doors we open

for each other all day, saying: hello, shalom,

buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos dias

in the language my mother taught me-in every language

spoken into one wind carrying our lives

without prejudice, as these words break from my lips."

The first inaugural poet in history was Robert Frost at John F. Kennedy's swearing-in ceremony in 1961. Frost recited "The Gift Outright".

The other inaugural poets included: Maya Angelou at Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration and Miller Williams in Clinton's 1997 inaugural ceremony; and Elizabeth Alexander at Obama's first inauguration.

--Indo-Asian News Service


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