For S.C.'s Poet Laureate, An Inauguration Poem Without An Inaugural Audience : The Two-Way State officials say they cut Marjory Wentworth's two-minute poem for time, but many residents say it was the mention of the state's history with slavery that got it tossed.

For S.C.'s Poet Laureate, An Inauguration Poem Without An Inaugural Audience

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South Carolina's governor, Nikki Haley, is being inaugurated for the second time today. But a long-standing tradition will be missing, a poem read by the state's poet laureate. State officials say they cut the two-minute poem for time. Here's NPR's Laura Sullivan.

LAURA SULLIVAN, BYLINE: South Carolina's poet laureate, Marjory Wentworth, describes her three previous inaugural poems as safe. There was a lot about nature and animals. This year, she says, after watching protests ignited by the deaths of unarmed black men, she didn't want to write about nature and took to Facebook to ask residents their thoughts.

MARJORY WENTWORTH: Some of them were quite beautiful.

SULLIVAN: Her Facebook question was generating some attention. Wentworth says that's when she was told second-hand officials may be cutting the poem. So she sent in what she had written. It was a poem about South Carolina, children boarding school buses, firemen, migrant farm workers, a dock where a hundred thousand Africans were sold into slavery.

WENTWORTH: Here, where the Confederate flag still flies beside the statehouse, haunted by our past, conflicted about the future. At the heart of it, we are at war with ourselves.

SULLIVAN: Wentworth says she got an email saying the poem had to be cut for time. A state official said they had not seen the poem before they cut it. Governor Nikki Haley's spokeswoman said in a statement to NPR, quote, "while we appreciate Ms. Wentworth's long service to South Carolina, scheduling constraints simply wouldn't allow a poem to be read." Wentworth says she's disappointed.

WENTWORTH: I really believe that our history is part of what's holding us back. It's kind of an unhealed wound. And we're all in this together. And I know that sounds a little like John Lennon, but I wanted people to think about some of those things.

SULLIVAN: In the meantime, officials with the state chapter of the NAACP are holding a Martin Luther King march on Monday. They told Wentworth she is welcome to read her poem to their group. Laura Sullivan, NPR News.

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