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Common putting the controversy in White House poetry night?

Is Common making poetry cool or vile? (Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images)

Sesame Street guest host and hip-hop artist Common has been condemned by Fox News and the former vice presidential candidate as a “vile” choice for the event because of his poem “Letter to the Law,” with lyrics such as “My uzi weighs a ton.” As Reliable Sources reports, the White House stands behind their choice.

Suddenly what might have been a subdued event watched by literary lovers now has all the allure of controversy. Will Common show up and tarnish the hallowed halls of the White House with his verses? Or will he spout “very positive” lyrics, as Fox News reported in 2010? We’ll have to watch the live stream of the event at 7 p.m. EST to find out.

In the meanwhile, let’s talk about poetry. Along with Common, Billy Collins, Elizabeth Alexander, Rita Dove, Kenneth Goldsmith, Aimee Mann, Jill Scott, and Alison Knowles will also attend the event. All beautiful performers in their own right (see some of their work below), I’d like to know what poems you love. Right now, I’m on a serious Pablo Neruda kick: “I can write the saddest lines tonight./I loved her, sometimes she loved me too.” What are the words that rattle through your head?

TweetLet me know your favorite poems by writing them in the comments or using #favoritepoems.

And watch some of tonight’s performers:

Okay, this isn’t Billy Collins, but it is his poem. Watch it:

Rita Dove

Kenneth Goldsmith


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