With the world having been thrown off balance for the last two years now, art has always been a way for people to express themselves and find hope to persevere through it all. Poetry is one form of art I never tire of writing about or writing in general, as it’s a huge part of my identity.
Poetry has gained new traction since Amanda Gorman read the inaugural poem at Joe Biden’s Presidential inauguration and went on to gain even more fame, including reading a poem for the Super Bowl. She was just 22 years old when she read at the Presidential Inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in history.
Amanda Gorman also made history years before then. If you didn’t know, she was named the first-ever U.S. National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017. The position is just as nice as the title; the National Youth Poet Laureate is chosen to essentially represent their community and the country as a whole through their poetry, activism, and initiative. There are also Youth Poet Laureates for states and counties (within those states) who carry on similar duties.
I’m a Youth Poet Laureate myself, though not as wide-scale as Amanda Gorman since I represent the county I live in. So while I’m nowhere near Amanda’s level of fame or experience, it’s been so validating to watch her shine. She’s a role model to so many people like me, poets and non-poets alike, who can truly appreciate the power of the spoken word.
Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” was one that I will always hold dear to my heart. Like it did to so many others, the poem spoke to me and gave me hope for a brighter future, hope to heal from past wounds, and hope to grow stronger from fear. In an opinion piece for the New York Times, she wrote about how afraid she was to read at the inauguration. She was afraid for her health and safety, but persevered because she views her fear “not as cowardice but as a call forward, a summons to fight for what we hold dear.”
As a poet who used to have immense stage fright, it’s interesting to see how even someone as experienced as Amanda Gorman could second-guess such a huge opportunity. I appreciate that she sees it as a source of strength rather than a barrier and demonstrates her perseverance as a role model for others.
I don’t know Amanda personally, but I do know people who do, so being “two degrees” away from her is pretty cool. Whether I meet her someday or not, I want to thank Amanda Gorman for giving us hope and strength through her art, for being a voice for the nation, and for being an inspiration to us all.
“Power to the poet who recites
With a voice like magic
And carves her name into history
With a pen like hope.”