Teen Voices Interview With Poet Elizabeth Alexander

By Christine Cupaiuolo — January 23, 2009

Wouldn’t you love to sit down, one-on-one, and talk about writing with Elizabeth Alexander, the nationally-renowned African American poet, essayist, playwright, teacher — and, as the world now knows, President Obama’s poet-of-choice?

Wilza Merzeus, 18, feature editor of Teen Voices magazine, had the opportunity to do just that.

In addition to discussing poetry and feminism during the spring 2008 interview, Alexander offers sound, healthy advice for young poets:

Read all the time; always have a book [with you]. Read widely and diversely; read more than you ever imagined you could. Keep learning and keep taking in examples of what good writing is. It’s very important to keep healthy, to attend to the health of your body. It’s difficult to listen to your distinct and magical voices if your body is not as it should be. That means fresh unpackaged foods, moving [your body] every day, and spending some time in a quiet space. […]

I was at the inauguration, though so far back (as in: Lincoln-Memorial-far) that I enjoyed watching it all again. Here’s Alexander, reading what I though was an exquisite poem (text):

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