Following the tradition of President Bill Clinton who invited author Maya Angelou to deliver an original poem at his Inaugural, Elizabeth Alexander will recite the Inaugural poem at the President-elect Barack Obama's Inauguration on January 20. Alexander is a professor at Yale University, after having taught at the University of Chicago and Smith College. A native Washingtonian, she is the daughter of former Army Secretary Clifford Alexander and historian Adele Alexander.
Alexander, a prodigious scholar is author of four books of poems including American Sublime that was one of three finalists for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize. She is also a scholar of African-American literature and culture and recently published a collection of essays, The Black Interior. She teaches English language/literature, African-American literature and gender studies at Yale, and, for the 2007-08 academic year, is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.
Alexander's poems, short stories and critical writings have been widely published in such journals and periodicals as The Paris Review, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, The Village Voice, The Women's Review of Books and The Washington Post. Her play, Diva Studies, which was performed at Yale's School of Drama, garnered her a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship as well as an Illinois Arts Council award.