The Rumpus Inaugural Poems


Official inaugural poems are a strange beast. There have only been five of them and the one we recognize as the first, Robert Frost’s “The Gift Outright,” wasn’t composed for President Kennedy’s inauguration. Frost recited it when the sun’s glare off the snow made the poem he’d written, “Dedication,” impossible to read. But perhaps the real problem with inaugural poems is that they’re too connected to a moment which celebrates rather than questions or critiques power, and in times like these, where we face governance by people who seem at best uninterested in and at worst hostile to the democratic and social progress this country has made over the last 200+ years, it is our duty as poets to stand as witness and critic.

So for this inauguration, we have solicited work from fourteen poets, and we’ll run these poems as features daily from January 7 through January 20. We hope you will celebrate this work and share it with your friends and family, colleagues, and acquaintances. The poems will go live on the homepage of The Rumpus at 3 p.m. PT during weekdays and at noon PT on weekends. After the jump, find a complete list of the poets whose work will be featured in this series.

1/7: Leila Chatti
1/8: Kaveh Akbar
1/9: Julie Marie Wade
1/10: Jaswinder Bolina
1/11: JoAnn Balingit
1/12: Rajiv Mohabir
1/13: Lynn Melnick
1/14: Hanif Willis Abdurraqib
1/15: Eve L. Ewing
1/16: Julian Randall
1/17: Brian Oliu
1/18: Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
1/19: Kyle Dargan
1/20: Airea Matthews

Original poetry published by The Rumpus. More from this author →