By now you probably know that Maya Angelou, one of America's most beloved poets, died Wednesday.
The New York Times has chronicled her life as the "lyrical witness" to the Jim Crow South. Mother Jones has distilled some of her "timeless wisdom." And her reading at Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration has been parsed for personal meaning.
The irony is that if she'd given that inaugural reading today, she likely would have been snarked at and dismissed by the dominant voices in media, as Richard Blanco was after Obama's second inauguration last year when the poet became the first Latino and the first openly gay inaugural poet to read in our nation's history.
"Poetry: I don't get it. Never have," tweeted one prominent Washington Post writer during the speech. "What's this dude talking about?" snarked another at Politico. Cord Jefferson, writing for Gawker at the time, captured the prevailing sentiment. It roughly translated to: Get this poet guy away from the microphone.
Even (or maybe especially) Stephen Colbert took a shot at Blanco. "Of course, folks, being Democrats, there legally had to be a liberal, gay Latino poet from Maine," he quipped at the time. Then, after showing footage of Blanco's performance, he added: "Would it kill you to throw a rhyme in there? It's a poem. It's not that hard."