Obama's Host 1st Poetry Jam In History of The White House

October 5, 2015

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcomed actors, poets and writers to the East Room of the White House for a night of poetry readings and spoken word.

It's just amazing to see the variety of color in the White House! “We're here tonight not just to enjoy the works of these artists, but also to highlight the importance of the arts in our life and in our nation,” said Obama.

Michelle Obama instructed the audience to “enjoy, have fun, and be loose.” She said she wants the White House to be “a place where all voices can be heard.”

“I have wanted to do this from Day One, the notion of standing in this room and hearing some poetry,” said Mrs. Obama. It's no secret that President Obama is a fan of poetry. He was spotted reading some shortly after winning the election and included a poet at his inaugration ceremony.

Performers included Chicago poet Mayda del Valle, actor James Earl Jones, writers Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman (husband and wife), jazz bassist and vocalist Esperanza Spalding, pianist Eric Lewis and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda.

The “poetry jam” was streamed live on the White House Web site and is due to be broadcast on HBO.