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Mrs. Alexander praised the president-elect for deciding to showcase poetry at his inauguration, noting that Mr. Obama, who contributed poems to his college publication, is known for his way with words.

“The care with which he has always used language, along with his evident understanding that language and words bear power and tell us who we are across differences, have been hallmarks of his political career,” said Mrs. Alexander.

“I hope that this portends well for the future of the arts in our everyday and civic life,” she said.