Elizabeth Alexander is a leading American poet whose work has been inspired by a wide range of influence, from history, literature, art and music, dreams and stories to the rich infinity of the African American experience. In January 2009 she read the inaugural poem for the swearing-in of President Barack Obama.
She was born in New York City and grew up in Washington, DC. She is a poet, essayist, playwright, teacher and scholar of African-American literature and culture, and has given readings and lectures on African-American literature and culture in many countries.
She has published four poetry collections in the States: The Venus Hottentot (1990), Body of Life (1996), Antebellum Dream Book (2001) and American Sublime (2005), a Pulitzer finalist. Her first British publication, American Blue: Selected Poems (2006), draws on all these. Miss Crandall's School for Young Ladies & Little Misses of Color, a collaboration with poet Marilyn Nelson and artist Floyd Cooper, was published by Worksong in 2007. She has also published two collections of essays, a play, and a memoir, The Light of the World (2015).
Elizabeth Alexander is currently the Director of Creativity and Free Expression at the Ford Foundation. She is the Wun Tsun Tam Mellon Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University, and previously served as on the faculty of Yale University for 15 years, including her tenure as chair of the African American Studies Department.
Books by Elizabeth Alexander