White House Jams to Spoken Word

Theater, jazz, poetry collide in East Room event
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 13, 2009 9:33 AM CDT
Vice President Joseph Biden and director Spike Lee watch as President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama arrive to participate in "an evening of poetry, music and the spoken word."   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
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(Newser) – Spoken word, jazz, and theater took the White House by storm last night in what has been called the first presidential poetry jam, the Washington Post reports. “We're here to celebrate the power of words,” President Obama said, adding that his wife is his poet. The jam, Michelle Obama said, was something she had wanted to do “from day one.”

Performers ranged from up-and-comers to celebrities: A young Hawaiian poet  probed the plight of the “forgotten,” and a man performed an ode to his deaf sister. James Earl Jones declaimed Shakespeare, and Pulitzer winner Michael Chabon gave a testament to words. A pair of jazz artists performed “transitions” between spoken-word offerings. “Some people get it, and some people don't," said one musician of his work. “The one that got it happens to be the first lady."