The Art Of Politics
8:00 am
Wed January 16, 2013

How You Can Write A Poem For A President

Here at WLRN, we're big fans of interactive storytelling

If you've ever participated in one of our Tweet Us A Story initiatives, you know what we're talking about. We solicit a first line from an author like Junot Díaz or Geoff Dyer and ask the audience to finish the story with us. 

The results have been surprisingly weird and wonderful. Because, you know, our audience is full of clever wordsmiths and storytellers.

Which is why we're excited that today our partners at The Takeaway are bringing that idea to a whole new level: they want your help writing an inaugural poem. 

Here are the details:

On January 21st, poet Richard Blanco will join the likes of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou, taking a national stage to recite what will be the country’s fifth inaugural poem. President John F. Kennedy began the tradition, commissioning Frost’s "The Gift Outright" for his 1961 swearing in. Since then, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have decided to place poetry front and center on the inaugural dais. 

At The Takeaway, we think poetry was built for the digital age — and this inauguration could use a People’s Poem. So we invited noted poet Kwame Dawes to start us off with a first line — and we want you to be our co-authors! It’s a grand experiment — and here’s how you can make your voice heard:

  1. At 9:30 AM ET on Wednesday, January 16th, the challenge begins. We’ll tweet out a first line from noted poet Kwame Dawes (@kwamedawes).
  2. Then the experiment is in your handsTweet us back (we're @thetakeaway) with the line you’d write next. Always tweet with the hashtag #prezpoem — that way we’ll know what you’ve written — and so will everyone else.
  3. Keep an eye on that #prezpoem hashtag – that way, you can use others’ tweets as your inspiration. If you want your line to be paired with someone else’s, just include their twitter handle in your tweet.

Later in the week, Kwame Dawes will join us to talk about his favorite lines. We’ll curate our own favorite contributions to make a listener-supported People's Poem. And you can see the whole, raw, unedited work at thetakeaway.org.

So meet them on Twitter at 9:30 if you want to get in on the action. We can't wait to see what you come up with.