Think: Poems for Aretha Franklin’s Inauguration Day Hat by Patricia Spears Jones

As an African-American poet who grew up in the segregated South, I know my Church Lady hats. My mother has several. So when Aretha Franklin stood at the podium wearing a dove gray wool ensemble and hat to match, I knew that this was her grandest gesture and her best tribute to the new President of the United States, the fulfillment of the civil rights struggle, and honor to all the Church Ladies who made the day possible. Franklin’s generosity of spirit was matched by that boldly trimmed dove gray crown.

In early February, via Facebook and the poetry grapevine, I gathered poems about Aretha Franklin’s hat as a way to respond to political change and Obama’s presidency. “Think” was picked as a favorite Franklin song by many of the contributors, thus the title. The poets are women, men, straight, gay, young, a little older, established and emerging, mostly Americans (African and otherwise) and a Canadian and Costa Rican. We were inspired by Aretha Franklin’s singing “sweet land of liberty” wearing her diva hat as part of day of citizen power, political change, and natural splendor. Think.

Patricia Spears Jones.

April 27, 2009 – Obama’s 98th Day in Office (revised June 9, 2009)


This is a pdf that you can download and assemble as a saddle stitched book. It is designed to be printed on legal sized paper.

The easiest way to do this is to print the book one page at a time. If you have a printer which can print double-sided you can skip to step 4. It may be helpful to look at your printer’s instructions for how to print double-sided as all printers work differently. Feel free to use colored paper.

1. Print the first page.

2. Put that page back in the printer so that page two will print on the blank side.

3. Repeat for all pages of the book.

4. Stack all the pages in order.

5. Staple in the center and fold in half

There are 24 pages in this document but you will only need 6 pieces of paper to make the booklet.

Download the booklet using this link.

Four Poems by Patricia Spears Jones