Inaugural Poets by
(306 Stories)

Prompted By Inaugurations

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“Tyrants fear the poet.”

Amanda Gorman


Inauguration Day 1961,  the handsome young president and the weathered New England poet,   both hatless in the DC January chill.

The land was ours,  before we were the land’s …



Inauguration Day 1993,  the charismatic president and the incomparable Black poetess who taught a nation to rise.

”The Rock cries … You may stand upon me.”



Inauguration Day 2013,  the first Black president and the first Latinx and first gay inaugural poet.

“The  ‘I have a dream’. we keep dreaming.”


Inauguration Day 2021,  the new president pledging to heal us,  and the young poet inspiring us.

”For there is always light,  if only we are brave enough to see it –  if only we are brave enough to be it.”

Bless all our the poets,  Lordy knows we need them.

Footnote:  In 2010 President Obama presented Maya Angelou with the Medal of Freedom.

– Dana Susan Lehrman 

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Poets, Poetry, Inaugurations
Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    Thank you for the reminder of these poems and moments, Dana. Note that only Democrats have had poets at their inaugurations. I read this week that the Kennedys (both of them) loved poetry, were nourished by it, so wished to include Robert Frost in their ceremony. It is SO nice to have literate people back at the helm of our government!

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    I love this story, Dana. Yes, we need our poets now more than ever. Thanks for sharing these great photos.

  3. Suzy says:

    Thanks, Dana, for highlighting the inaugural poets. Interesting to see that, as Betsy points out, only Democrats have had poets. And apparently Obama had two of them, Elizabeth Alexander, who I mention in my story, and Richard Blanco, who you mention in yours. Both pretty forgettable, it seems. But I agree, we need all the poets.

  4. Marian says:

    Very telling, Dana, and how true! I’m also jazzed that Amanda Gorman will give poetry widespread exposure. It is much needed in our culture.

  5. What a wonderful way to have approached this prompt, Dee! Here’s to poets, our quieter but no less passionate rock stars.

  6. John Shutkin says:

    Dana, thanks for this great focus on poets at inaugurations. Brilliant idea. And such amazing words that you have highlighted.

    Plus, until Betsy noted it, I had not considered that only Democrats had poets at their inaugurations. Why am I not surprised? The only thing Republicans bring are their wrecking crews.

  7. Good to be reminded of each of these poets. (Note: I believe the word “poetess” is no longer used by women who write poetry.)

    • Thanx Dale and yes ‘poetess’ and ‘actress’ are no longer in favor and believe it or not I hesitated as I wrote the word. But somehow when using poetess in that line the cadence sounded right to me, and I also wanted to emphasize Angelou’s gender.

      (Not sure if i’ve articulated this correctly but hope you understand! )

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