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Alexander challenged by inauguration poem

WASHINGTON, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Yale University Professor Elizabeth Alexander says creating a poem for the Washington inauguration of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama will be a "challenge."

The Ivy League college professor said she is excited to be only the fourth poet to offer an inauguration reading, The Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported Sunday.

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"It's going to be a challenge to serve the occasion and serve the art form at the same time," she said of the Jan. 20, 2009, event.

Previous poets who read at presidential inaugurations include Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Miller Williams.

Alexander said her poem will be focused on what it means to have a first African-American U.S. president don the prestigious and powerful mantle, the Courant reported.

"The moment is larger than Barack Obama and the poem," Alexander said. "It's about this moment in American history. It's about the country's desire for change and how so many people worked to make it happen."

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