Ode Of Office

Meet Elizabeth Alexander. The 46-year-old American poet and Yale professor was plucked from relative obscurity by President-elect Barack Obama last month, when he invited her to compose a poem for his inauguration.

On Jan. 20, Alexander will deliver her ode to Obama in the form of an "occasional poem," verse written for a specific, well, occasion.

Alexander, who was born in Harlem and raised in Washington, has known Mr. Obama for a decade. She believes her poetry "attends to history," according to the New York Times, including "sometimes thorny and difficult American history." You can check out a couple sample poems here.

Our chief national correspondent, Byron Pitts (one sidenote: tremendous congrats, Bryon, on the new gig!) sat down with Alexander, and tonight on the Evening News, he'll show you a slice of this remarkable woman's life that will come full-circle next week. She'll be a part of history – again. For now, you can learn more about Alexander at Poets.org.

In other inauguration-poetry news, the Association Press made an odd request of a few of the country's best-known poets. It asked them to draft their own inauguration poem. The reaction? Mixed. From the AP:

One of the poets who didn't respond to the AP's invitation was poet Elizabeth Alexander. It turns out she'll be reciting an original poem at the inauguration.

Apparently, Obama's invitation took priority over the AP's.