Obamas Host Poetry Jam: "Enjoy, Have Fun And Be Loose" (SLIDESHOW)

06/13/2009 05:12am ET | Updated November 17, 2011

The president and first lady hosted an evening of music and poetry in the East Room of the White House Tuesday evening.

"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."

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.

Check out photos from the event.

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