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When the Superbowl comes to mind, spoken word poetry performance certainly does not follow. Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in American history will make history for the second time this year, will be the first-ever poet to perform at the 52nd Super Bowl this Sunday. Earlier this month, Gorman mesmerized America with her powerful poem, “The Hill We Climb,” which reflected the political divide plaguing America. After her striking performance, many of us were reminded of the ways poetry can provide a voice to people in an uplifting way in order to inspire change.

The 22-year-old from Los Angeles has been deemed a symbol of hope, as her poem’s message hit deep into American’s hearts. In an interview with the New York Times, Gorman said she hoped her poem would “envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal.” These visions of unity are at the forefront of consciousness in those who wish to resolve the tumultuous, ongoing political divide which has long oppressed minority communities, caused harm to those who identify as LGBTQ+ and restricted women’s fundamental rights. Many Americans felt a sense of relief as the dark clouds of Donald Trump slowly moved away from the white house while the sun shone down at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Gorman’s confidence emulated nothing but light and hope, inspiring not only her audience but especially young black girls looking up to her. Full of emotion, Gorman’s voice called to “raise this wounded world into a wonderful one,” signalling American’s to envision with her a unified and exclusive United States. 

President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and their spouses during the 59th inauguration in D.C.
Photo by U.S. Army Private 1st Class Laura Hardin distributed under a Public Domain Mark 1.0 license

Gorman has recently been asked to perform at the Super Bowl, which is the first time in the game’s existence a poetry segment has been included. Without a doubt, Amanda Gorman’s performance spoke to the hopes and dreams of many Americans for their country, revealing the power that spoken word poetry can hold. Her poem at the Super Bowl will honor three Americans for their work during the coronavirus pandemic. Gorman will be sharing their stories and recognizing their hard work throughout the pandemic. 

Amanda’s inauguration performance reminds us that poetry is often at the heart of movements aspiring for change. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech embodies poetic rhetoric and imagery, remaining one of the most inspirational art forms ever used for a liberation movement. The Black Lives Matter movement utilizes poetry on banners and posters for racial justice. As the feminist, civil rights activist Audre Lorde once said, “poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams towards survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.” Often times when people think of poetry, we recall what we are taught in school: ‘classic’ poems by dead white men from decades ago. Gorman on the other hand, reminds us that poetry has the power to provide a unifying voice unlike any other art form. Through her voice, we encounter a hopeful vision of America. Perhaps hard to visualize now, but we can only hope it is on the horizon.

Kennedy is an English Cultural Studies major, also minoring in Art History and Communication Studies. In her free time, she enjoys reading, painting, and drawing. She is very passionate about feminist approaches to reading art and works of culture.
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