As the nation acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, we look back on what he meant to poetry and the arts. When he drew up plans for his inauguration, he was the first president-elect to invite a poet to the ceremony. Those old enough remember Robert Frost on that snow-blinding January day as he stumbled again and again in trying to read his newly written poem in the glare of the sun. The intense awkwardness of the moment was broken when he gave up the attempt and recited from memory another poem, “The Gift Outright.” Huge applause followed the amazing recovery by the aging poet — an indelible moment in the ceremony. See a snippet of the moment here.
Setting the precedent for a poet at the inauguration wasn’t Kennedy’s only salute to poetry and the arts. [Read more...]