10K80 by Bernarda Chiriboga February 2, 2021
Amanda Gorman, just 22, has only lived a small fraction of what is sure to be an iconic and prestigious career. Amanda Gorman’s speech on Inauguration Day was not just impassioned, but transcendent, and her resilience shines a light forward for the youth in America.
Her brief time in the spotlight on inauguration day and in the subsequent days after, brings hope to a troubled state, as with our youth leading us in short order, we may be alright after all.
The presidential inauguration day was a remarkable moment for America and the entire world. Kamala Harris became the first woman, the first African American, and the first South Asian American (hopefully not the last of any of these) to become vice president.
The first lady, and former first ladies, restored the fashion sense at politics with their stunning outfits by remarkable designers. And, of course, no one will ever forget Bernie Sanders’ chair that crashed the internet.
And, while Joe Biden became president of the United States, restored hope, and saved America from tyranny, the person who really stole the show was “a skinny Black girl, descended from the slaves and raised by a single mother, who dreamed of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one” — Amanda Gorman.
Not that Kamala, Joe, or Michelle Obama’s belt didn’t catch our undivided attention. But, Gorman presented what was meant to be the perfect finale for the start of a resilient era.
And with other youth rising up as iconic leaders in speech like Amanda Gorman, or otherwise, their careers, and thus our country, already looks more promising than just a short time ago.
The youngest national laureate encapsulated in a single poem all what we, American or not, have collectively learned over the last year. And installed hope and conviction in the leadership of younger generations’ culture.
Amanda was born and raised in Los Angeles by, as her poem stated, a single mother. Her twin sibling and she were born early which caused some unfortunate developmental delays.
For Amanda Gorman, that meant a speech impediment.
“I basically had to teach myself English and language in a way that my peers around me did not… But I think in the end, it made me a stronger poet.
Because I had to work so hard to make that leap from someone who couldn’t say her last name or the school that she got into for college — to make that leap to be a youth poet laureate performing at the Library of Congress. And I think having that type of journey made me appreciate having a voice.”Amanda Gorman, Amanpour and Company, 2021
To sum it up, Amanda went from being treated as a special needs student to being the first National Youth Poet Laureate at only 18.
Amanda learned to talk through the art of poetry, no wonder why reciting poems come out so naturally and eloquently for her.
Gorman went to Harvard University, “a cruel irony,” as she said, given her trouble with the Rs. There she studied sociology and found the motivation and impulse to use her poetry as a tool for activism.
Not only is Amanda Gorman using her career to help young girls with speech impediments learn resilience to overcome their problems and advocate for human rights. But, she is also using words to install hope and justice in America, just when we need it most.
“Poetry is inherently rebellious in its nature, I think it becomes the language and rhetoric of the people. We get to play on it and use those words to realize our thoughts and hopefully transform them into action.”Amanda Gorman, 2021
It is no coincidence that rhymes stick in our minds easier than sentences.
Amanda Gorman found her passion for poetry at a very young age.
She was in 3rd grade when she discovered that words had the power to transfer meaning to the most common of things. Her teacher had read Dandelion Wine, and when Ray Bradbury related candy to something completely different, she realized what she wanted to do with her life.
Ever since then, Gorman has used poetry and speech to bring awareness to social injustice. She elevates conversations to certain issues, shedding light, but more importantly, instilling hope.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that when America seeks to congregate its ideals it does so through poetry. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we see a poem at the base of the Statue of Liberty as oppose to a scientific formula or a prose paragraph. Or even at a Black Lives Matter march, you see the barriers that read: ‘They might bury us but they didn’t know we were seeds.’
That is poetry. And you know, it’s not a coincidence that we call for poetry in those moments”Amanda Gorman, 2021
And it’s not.
American linguistics and philosophers, Lakoff and Johnsons, explain in their book “Metaphors We Live By,” that people understand the world through metaphoric comparisons.
They argue that metaphors are the basis of our communication and understatement of the world. Just think about when you say “the grass is always greener on the other side,” what better way to say that we are always comparing ourselves to other people?
In fact, Amanda described poetry as an “old artifact of the land before time.” Thus, it’s perhaps the long-standing history that makes it one of the most powerful and political form of art. “All art is always political,” she said.
“Poetry stands as a reminder of the past that we stand on and the future we stand for”Amanda Gorman, 2021
Amanda Gorman knows how to use her powers, both of resilience and of articulate prose. She is going to open the next Super Bowl, officially taking poetry to places it has never been before.
But, when asked where else does she hope to come in life, (given the how far has she come in such a young age), she said:
“For me, it’s not about beating the last thing I did, or competing with myself or competing against anything that I have done. But I will like to stay in the trajectory that I started for myself.
I never want to diverge from that and for me using my poetry to touch and heal and impact as many people as possible and that can be in a presidential inauguration, at the Superbowl or in a classroom, or even a living room. That is what’s next for me”Amanda Gorman, 2021
(You will find that her eloquence is not only when reciting poems, but when talking as well).
Thus, one thing is certain, America (and the world) should be grateful to live in an era where we are able to see how this young and promising woman contributes to culture through her art.
I personally think that for many years, poetry, being one of the first forms of art, has been overlooked. Speech for Amanda Gorman and all of us, is more important than we may ever know.
We find poetry everywhere, in our favorite songs or books, yet little do we notice or recognize it. But after January 20, 2021, that will happen no more.
The world was reminded of its power and beauty, and that is resilience at its core.