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Outrage Brewing Over Michelle Obama Inviting Common to Poetry Night at the White House

In National News, Politics on May 11, 2011 at 1:24 am
Common

Cover of Common


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Here’s an opportunity to relive your high-school poetry classes.
First Lady Michelle Obama has scheduled a poetry evening for Wednesday, and she’s invited several poets, including a successful Chicago poet and rapper, Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr., AKA “Common.”However, Lynn is quite controversial, in part because his poetry includes threats to shoot police and at least one passage calling for the “burn[ing]” of then-President George W. Bush.
Back in 2003, First Lady Laura Bush held a poetry evening, and she invited several poets to reprise the work of Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes and Walt Whitman. Although none of those poets had urged violence against a president, Bush canceled the event after left-of-center poets protested and threatened to disrupt the event.
Here’s a sample of Dickinson’s work that could have been presented at Bush’s event:
I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish us, you know.
How dreary to be somebody!
How public, like a frog
To tell your name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
Here’s a sample of Common’s work, transcribed from a 2007 video with 837,613 viewers on YouTube. Students, please compare and contrast the two poems. You’ll get extra credit for counting the death threats. There is no extra credit for identifying spelling errors. By the way, ‘Uzi’ is slang for a compact machine gun:
A Letter to the Law
Dem boy wanna talk… [indistinguishable]
Whatcha gon do if ya got one gun?
I sing a song for the hero unsung
with faces on the mural of the revolution
No looking back cos’ in back is what’s done
Tell the preacher, God got more than one son
Click here to continue reading.

Neil Munro
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  1. […] Outrage Brewing Over Michelle Obama Inviting Common to Poetry Night at the White House […]

  2. […] Outrage Brewing Over Michelle Obama Inviting Common to Poetry Night at the White House […]

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