Twenty-two year-old National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s reading of her poem The Hill We Climb at President Biden’s Inauguration was like big bright sun rising on the day. It was so full of assurance, music and hope that it left everyone we know wishing for more.
We are knocked out by the remarkable TedEd talk she gave in 2019. It is packed with wisdom about what poetry and voice really are, and the mantra she uses to strengthen and gather herself before each performance. But what is most astonishing is to watch her wise, fierce talk become poetry itself.
She is a force.
Here is her beauty of a poem The Miracle of Morning written in spring of 2020, a month or so into Covid19 lockdown.
I thought I’d awaken to a world in mourning.
Heavy clouds crowding, a society storming.
But there’s something different on this golden morning.
Something magical in the sunlight, wide and warming.
I see a dad with a stroller taking a jog.
Across the street, a bright-eyed girl chases her dog.
A grandma on a porch fingers her rosaries.
She grins as her young neighbor brings her groceries.
While we might feel small, separate, and all alone,
Our people have never been more closely tethered.
The question isn’t if we will weather this unknown,
But how we will weather this unknown together.
So on this meaningful morn, we mourn and we mend.
Like light, we can’t be broken, even when we bend.
As one, we will defeat both despair and disease.
We stand with healthcare heroes and all employees;
With families, libraries, schools, waiters, artists;
Businesses, restaurants, and hospitals hit hardest.
We ignite not in the light, but in lack thereof,
For it is in loss that we truly learn to love.
In this chaos, we will discover clarity.
In suffering, we must find solidarity.
For it’s our grief that gives us our gratitude,
Shows us how to find hope, if we ever lose it.
So ensure that this ache wasn’t endured in vain:
Do not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.
Read children’s books, dance alone to DJ music.
Know that this distance will make our hearts grow fonder.
From a wave of woes our world will emerge stronger.
We’ll observe how the burdens braved by humankind
Are also the moments that make us humans kind;
Let every dawn find us courageous, brought closer;
Heeding the light before the fight is over.
When this ends, we’ll smile sweetly, finally seeing
In testing times, we became the best of beings.
2 replies on “Amanda Gorman’s Mantra, Why Using Your Voice is a Political Choice + Her Poem for the Pandemic”
Thank you as always Sally! Here is a link to another Amanda Gorman poem, which was written for an exhibition that my collective was also part of, on the topic of climate change. What a voice! And so important for this moment in time. The arts and sciences are what will propel us forward now, after being ignored or devalued for the past four years.
Oh! She tears me up, wets my eyes with with hope, seeing that light still burning strong, in song, in girls who speak in poems.