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Obama book I have to admit I was happy to get an opportunity to participate in a blog tour through MotherTalk for the New York Times‘ Young Reader’s Edition of Obama: The Historic Journey. This book is definitely going to be a staple in libraries across the country, but it is also a great addition to home libraries. All of my kids were surprisingly interested in it, though they mostly wanted to see the pictures of the President when he was a baby [always a fascinating image for kids]. They are all here, the snapshots of a young unknown collected together, some of which have become familiar after being shown during the campaign. Though there is a bit more text than the preschoolers are used to listening to, it is an easy to follow mini-bio and narrative of his life, career and campaign written by NYT managing editor Jill Abramson.  My middle-schooler also browsed the pictures more than anything, but I would not be surprised if he turns to this book as a reference in the future. Above all, it is a collection of photographs taken by NYT staff of Obama’s rise to the public eye, from before the campaign all the way up to the Inauguration, many of which are stunning and inspiring. The layouts include highlighted quotations and a few charts. Some of the controverisal topics are discussed, including his absent father and his “father figure” Rev. J. Wright, but the facts are told simply and, I think, offer parents a chance to discuss such topics with children if curiosity arises. There is also an “Adult edition” available which includes texts of some of the Times’ columns and editorials focused on President Barack Obama’s journey. Personally, the junior edition is enough for me, because a lot of the info is old news at this point, and because it skips a lot of the politics and gets to the heart of the story: an American boy, with odds stacked against him, worked hard and dreamed big [with all that audacity] and achieved great things with support from his family and country.

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I am still writing from a public computer and had planned to use today’s “leisurely” writing time to make an entry for the Lit Flicks Challenge, but now I am focusing on another challenge. I have been sucking up a whole lot of Inauguration coverage on the tube lately [since i can’t do it online ;( ] and have been going back and forth between moping and celebrating. I had planned to attend the revo…um, celebration myself, but my call to serve is generally dominated by my motherly duties. I am not about to drag them up there in the forecasted snow and millions of revelers, so I will probably be glued to CSpan Tuesday too. It really is exciting watching the nation prepare for a new era, and though some of it seems extravagant while there are wars raging and economies failing, I can’t blame anyone for the desire to party on…it has been a long time coming. [I’m talking generations, not just administrations].

So, I was flipping through the news channels and stopped on a call-in interview with Dr. Maya Angelou on MSNBC. She was talking about writing a piece in honor of the day {as well as how hard it is to “create on demand” as we well know}… She mentioned how powerful poetry and creative writing in general is on the culture and on the population. To summarize, she pointed out that what may not be understood when read as a law or in a textbook becomes more accessible and impressionable when expressed as poetry or lyrics. People remember and relate to poetry, and those words last, often longer than the laws or the texts.  I have been thinking about writing a piece too, and after hearing her speak I feel even more motivated. If she had not been interrupted by the perky television hostess, she may have made a similar call.

Monday has also been declared a Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. which isn’t a bad thing to implement [hopefully that continues beyond this year]. What I am thinking about is a little different though. As writers, we have the gift of being able to contribute to the culture, and to history, our words. If we can not give any other service this week, or even if we can, we should, I believe, at least offer this service. Use some downtime tomorrow or Tuesday [or really anytime] to reflect on these moments, to record your feelings and thoughts, or even to gripe about the hoopla [which also has its place in the history books]. We can share our creations, on our blogs, sites, here or in our communities. Or even just tuck it away for the grandkids to find someday… whether you like poetry, essays or any other form of art,this is the kind of occasion that inspires creativity and expression. And this is our gift which we have to offer.

I have turned to poetry many times in my life when I want to express my opinion and feelings, remember a moment or honor figures important in my life. I think this event covers all those factors. Besides, even if poetry is kept personal, never shared with another reader, it is also a personal record, of one’s own history. For this really is an occasion being shared and experienced by all of us, beyond politics, beyond age, race or gender. Our nation, and our culture is going through a fundamental shift and we are never going to be quite the same again. That concept alone has to inspire the poet in all of us.

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