Obama has been touted as among the most literary presidents in modern history, but his choice for an inaugural poet has some scratching their heads.Okay, there's a limited set to pull from here, but it seems to me that of the three previous inaugural poets, you can make a good case that two of them were political choices. Angelou replaced Williams in 1992--I only know this because I studied under Williams at the University of Arkansas--and even if choosing a woman of color wasn't a political choice, the poem she wrote was decidedly a political one. As for Frost, again, even if his choice wasn't a political one, the poem certainly was a political one (though of a politics not shared by a number of poets today, I'd imagine). Williams got his chance in 1996, and he'd been close with the Clintons when they were Law Professors at the U of A.
Acting more like a man of politics than a man of letters, Obama picked former Chicago neighbor and family chum Elizabeth Alexander to deliver an original inaugural poem next month. Alexander, 46, is an African-American studies professor at Yale. Her brother worked on Obama’s campaign and transition team, according to the New Yorker magazine.
So assuming Alexander is a political pick--and given their past relationship, that's certainly not a given--the question remains, so what? It's the inauguration--it's kind of a political event--and it's not like there hasn't been a long history of poets thrusting their politics out there for all to read and hear.
One other thing: the poem Newsmax "excerpted," titled "Neonatology," is available here. I doubt it's the sort of thing Alexander will use as a template for the poem she'll read on January 20.