Backstage on Inauguration Day! We’re just moments away from the inauguration of @SalemStatePres John Keenan. pic.twitter.com/yZtwK9VEVQ— Salem State (@SalemState) January 19, 2018
This is me last Friday at the inauguration of Salem State's 14th president, John Keenan. I, along with EJ Calderon '18, were asked to write poems to commemorate the occasion.
Rewind to January 12, one week before the ceremony, when I was struggling to get the words on paper. If you've ever written or read an occasional poem, you know how difficult it can be to tap into the mood of the moment. Like many campuses, we've had our share of racial tension. And, I was working on this inspirational poem in the middle of Trump's "sh*thole" controversy. Ugh.
But with the help of a few close poet-friends, I wrote this poem, which is not perfect, but maybe it was (is) the right poem at the right time. (Read EJ Calderon's poem.)
Writing an inauguration poem wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Once I sat down to do it, I had a moment of clarity about my process: I am a procrastinator. I spend too much time worrying about time lost when I should except this is where I am and get on with it. And that's what I did. I wrote it in a day and took three more to revise. You can make the case that I had been writing it in my head all along, but pressure is part of my process. When the poem was done, I felt relieved in a "mission accomplished" sort of way. Woo hoo!
The day itself was lovely; it was a nice break in the routine. Lots of pomp and circumstance. I've never seen the gym look so good! So many colleagues were there in the audience, along with the leadership from other colleges, government officials, alumni, and students. My hope is renewed as we move toward an environment of innovation and inclusiveness. I'm just grateful that my poem will a part of the school's history.
(Read my poem "Legacy.")