Sent by Rep. Kyrsten Sinema at 9 p.m. (Arizona time) May 12 from Washington D.C.
Tonight the Obamas held the first-ever White House Poetry Slam. It was amazing!
I arrived at the East Gate just before 7 p.m. and went quickly through the security screening process. Then a quick walk into the White House and I found myself in the East Wing!
The group was small, mostly DC types with a few people like myself from around the country. Just before the performance began, I saw my good friend Ana Sol Gutierrez, state delegate from Maryland.
President Obama started off the evening with a welcome to the crowd and an affirmation of his commitment to the arts. Michelle, who clearly orchestrated this amazing evening, went next. She looked spectacular – white pants with a silk stripe and a multi-colored, one-shouldered top with sequins (orange, yellow and green). After her introduction, the evening began.
First up were musicians ELEW and Esperanza Spalding, pianist and bassist. Then a stirring spoken word by Mayde del Valle of Chicago. James Earl Jones was incredible with a performance from "Othello." I cried a bit during Joshua Brandon Bennett's poem about deafness and family. But my favorite of the evening was hands down Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose Alexander Hamilton piece was moving, funny, dramatic and incredibly talented. He brought the house down.
After the event, some lucky few got moments with the President (I did!). After a hug and brief chat with lots of attendees, President Obama left and the rest of us enjoyed more time talking during the reception. I met ELEW, Esperanza, Joshua, and my fav Lin-Manuel. Finally, the lights came up and we all left. It's almost midnight here, and I plan to sleep for just a few hours before catching the early flight back to Phoenix for this last-minute Approps hearing…
What an amazing evening! All throughout the evening, I reflected on how different this White House is from anything I've seen before. These performers are new, fresh and certainly not what one would expect to see from the same old White Houses in the past. This White House is committed to the arts, to poetry, to music, to beauty in performance.
And this White House is eager to explore the new, the brave, and that which is not quite yet in the mainstream. It was exciting to be a part of something so incredibly new – I hope to go back again and again!