Elizabeth Alexander in the Big Think Studio Today

Inaugural poetess and Professor of African-American Studies at Yale Elizabeth Alexander is sitting down with Big Think today. She helped ring in the Obama presidency with her poem, "Praise Song for the Day" on January 20, 2009 in front of the audience of a million.

Alexander has a teaching career that spans nearly twenty years. She has mentored young poets at the University of Chicago, Northwestern, University of Pennsylvania, Smith and Haverford.

She is the first recipient of the Alphonse Fletcher Sr. Fellowship for "work that furthers the broad social goals of the U.S. Supreme Court's Brown vs. Board of Education decision of 1954." She has authored five collections of verse, including American Sublime which was a Pulitzer finalist in 2005. Alexander once wrote in an essay, "the distillation of language in poetry, its precision, can help us see sharply in the midst of many conundrums." It doesn't get much better than that for times like these.

Send us any questions you may have about poetry, poetics, language, of anything else you want to know about this wild cultural moment.

How getting in sync with your partner can lead to increased intimacy and sexual desire

Researchers discover a link between nonverbal synchronization and relationship success.

Sex & Relationships
  • Scientists say coordinating movements leads to increased intimacy and sexual desire in a couple.
  • The improved rapport and empathy was also observed in people who didn't know each other.
  • Non-verbal clues are very important in the development stages of a relationship.
Keep reading Show less

How humans evolved to live in the cold

Humans evolved to live in the cold through a number of environmental and genetic factors.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Surprising Science
  • According to some relatively new research, many of our early human cousins preceded Homo sapien migrations north by hundreds of thousands or even millions of years.
  • Cross-breeding with other ancient hominids gave some subsets of human population the genes to contend and thrive in colder and harsher climates.
  • Behavioral and dietary changes also helped humans adapt to cold climates.
Keep reading Show less

Stan Lee, Marvel co-creator, is dead at 95

The comics titan worked for more than half a century to revolutionize and add nuance to the comics industry, and he built a vast community of fans along the way.

(Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • Lee died shortly after being rushed to an L.A. hospital. He had been struggling with multiple illnesses over the past year, reports indicate.
  • Since the 1950s, Lee has been one of the most influential figures in comics, helping to popularize heroes that expressed a level of nuance and self-doubt previously unseen in the industry.
  • Lee, who's later years were marked by some financial and legal tumult, is survived by his daughter, Joan Celia "J.C." Lee.
Keep reading Show less