Campaign rallies, inaugural addresses, States of the Union, declarations of war: presidential speeches have provided defining moments in the United States’ history. In most cases, addresses to the nation are delicately crafted, behind the scenes, by expert speechwriters. Through the careful selection of words, and by skillfully employing the rhythm and sound of language, these poets of the podium allow the nation’s leaders to reassure and mobilize the public, through the power of the spoken word. What are the ingredients, and what is the process, for developing a major speech? In the age of social media, with constant communications and short attention spans, does political oratory still resonate as it once did?
Copies of David Litt’s new book Thanks Obama! My Hopey, Changey White House Years and Robert Pinsky's book At the Foundling Hospital: Poems will be available for sale and signing after the program from the Book Cellar.
Background reading and multimedia:
- The Politics of Poetry
David Orr, Poetry, July/August 2008
- Washington and Lincoln Were Great Presidents. But Only One Was a Great Poet
Gillian Brockell, Washington Post, February 19, 2018
- Archive of Presidential Poetry
Library of Congress