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By Elizabeth Alexander
1. Walking (1963)
You tell me, knees are important, you kiss
The knees in this painting are what send the people forward.
Once progress felt real and inevitable,
into a light both brilliant and unseen.
The city burns. We have to stay at home,
Yesterday I went downtown with Mom.
Mostly I go to school or watch television
Elizabeth Alexander was born in Harlem, raised in Washington, D.C., and attended Yale University, where she now teaches African American Studies. She is the author of six books of poems, including most recently, "Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010." On Jan. 20, 2009, Alexander became just the fourth poet to recite an original poem at a U.S. presidential inauguration. Here is a recent conversation with her on Art Beat. Also, watch Alexander's 2009 conversation with Jeffrey Brown.
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