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Who's in the Video
Elizabeth Alexander – poet, educator, memoirist, scholar, and arts activist – is president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation's largest funder in arts and culture, and humanities in[…]

The poet cites Adrienne Rich and “the dream of a common language.”

Question: Could one poem tell the American story?

Alexander:    Well, I mean, I think just that one poem wouldn’t do it.  We would need more than one poem and if anyone could know one poem, everyone could know 25 poems, it’s not that much harder especially when you start when you’re a child.  So I… I think that there’s something beautiful about the idea, you know, I’m thinking of Adrienne Rich again, the dream of a common language, that’s the title of one of her books and poems and a concept that I quite like which is not about a flattening of difference at all but it is about thinking, what length… how do we speak to each other?  Knowing that we’re coming from different experiences and different places and how like you and I read the same poem and love the same poem but for completely different reasons, that’s interesting.