On the first books I read this year (2017) was US Poet, Academic Elizabeth Alexander’s haunting and beautiful 2015 memoir The Light of the World, a love-story centered on her marriage to Eritrean-born Ficre Ghebreyesus, who tragically died at the age of 50, following a massive heart attack. I was deeply moved, and recovered an appreciation for a well-written memoir. Since that one I’ve read another two memoirs, both different, but each a rich insight into the lives of two people I have a very high-regard for. I think what I like about good memoirs is the way that they open up, and respond deeply to the questions of what it means to be a human being through all the seasons and experiences of a human life. I highly recommend the book, and gained much from reading it.
For a wide-ranging introduction to Alexander’s poetry I recommend her 2012 published Crave Radiance: New and Selected Poems 1990-2010.
Aired on April 3rd 2017 Design Matters’ Debbie Millman talked to US-poet Elizabeth Alexander about the journey of her extraordinary life and how death makes us think about what we truly value. Some of you will recall that Alexander composed and read a poem for Barack Obama’s 20th January 2009 Inauguration (more on that poetic journey here. The January 2017 article also includes a link to Alexander reciting the poem on the day. In the Design Matters interview Alexander also reads her poem too. You’ll find the text of the poem Praise Song for the Day here).
It’s a fascinating conversation (downloadable via iTunes).