From inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander's interview with Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal:
What poets had the greatest impact on your own work?Read the complete Q & A.
There are so many, but let me mention a few I am thinking about right now. Walt Whitman, a poet with a wonderfully capacious sense of what America is and can be -- and of all the varied voices making up the American song -- is very important to me. Gwendolyn Brooks, the great poet from the South Side of Chicago, an incredibly brilliant miniaturist whose work understood that in the small details of peoples lives much larger and broader truths can be told. Also, Robert Hayden, a poet from Detroit who wrote in the middle of the 20th century. He has an incredible depth of feeling and gravitas in his work, a tone that is very important to me as I write this poem. It is a joyous occasion but also a very serious moment. To move forward as a country is challenging work. His work lets me think about the enormity of the task at hand.
Read Elizabeth Alexander's poems online.