For S.C.’s Poet Laureate, An Inauguration Poem Without An Inaugural Audience
by LAURA SULLIVAN
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley starts her second term today. But absent from the inaugural ceremony will be a long-standing tradition: a poem read by the state’s poet laureate.
State officials say they cut the two-minute poem for time, but some residents suspect it was the mention of slavery that got it tossed.
Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth has written poems for South Carolina’s past three inaugurations. She describes those efforts as “safe.”
The poems leaned heavily on nature and animals.
But this year, she says, she was moved watching the protests across the country ignited by the deaths of unarmed black men. She wanted to incorporate some of that subject matter into her writing.
She took to Facebook and asked South Carolina’s residents their opinions and asked them to tell her what they thought she should write about.
“Some of them were quite beautiful,” she said of the posts she got.
Many suggested that the sensitive topic of slavery was the reason the poem was snubbed.