President Barack Obama was sworn into his second term in office by Chief Justice John Roberts on Monday, January 21. Richard Blanco was on hand, too, as the inaugural poet. The, openly gay engineer, Cuban immigrant, and relatively young man on the rostrum at just 44 years-old, gave what David Freedlander at the Daily Beast called a soaring recitation of his Whistman-esque poem ‘One Day’.
Blanco is the latest in a relatively short line of inaugural poets stretching back to January 20, 1961 when Robert Frost recited ‘The Gift Outright’ at the swearing-in of John F. Kennedy. But he wasn’t the only poet to recite a poem on inauguration day to mark the beginning of Obama’s second term. Yahoo commissioned five individuals to read or recite original works of poetry in front of a camera to commemorate Inauguration Day 2013. Those individuals include Pulitzer Prize winners, James Tate and Paul Muldoon; Japanese-American Brenda Shaughnessy; National Book Critics Circle Award Nominee, Kevin Young; and James Franco.
And no, Franco’s lo-fi video recitation of his Obama in Asheville from his bed and dressed in his comfy cozies has not received the same acclaim as Blanco’s piece.
You can view Yahoo’s four other Presidential Inauguration 2013 poems here. They’re all better or worse than Franco’s depending on how high “unintentionally, but maybe-possibly-intentionally amazing” ranks on your inauguration poetry scale.