One of my favorite things about reading the LA Times morning newsletter is that a poem is delivered with the news each day. I try to take a moment and read it because I want to support the effort to inject a little vision and hope into our daily grind. After watching Amanda Gorman wow the world this week, it’s clear we all need to add more poetry in our life every day.
Reading a poem allows us to slow down and remember a simple the world simply. Mary Oliver, who died two years ago this week, is the patron saint for so many of us facing the rest of our lives and wondering how to create our lives. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are held up as virtuoso examples of leading an intentional, nature-connected life. And Maya Angelo’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” speaks to the power of words to combat racism and trauma.
Amanda Gorman wore a birdcage ring as she stood before our nation on January 20, 2020. Delivering her powerful words with a deliberate force, both elegant and fierce, in a canary yellow floor-length coat, with a Prada red hairband set atop her piled-high hair. No one has stopped talking or marveling about her since. In the best of her many post-inaguration interviews, Anderson Cooper was stunned into admiration-laced delight (see it here) and her agents have been fielding offer after offer from every brand in the world, from Cartier to Home Depot.
She spoke to all of us of history watching and spoke for all of us of hope rising. You can watch her deliver the poem here. It will be parsed for generations for it’s simple beauty, but also for its place in the history books – she finished the poem during the insurrection on January 6, 2020 and delivered it two weeks later at the inauguration of Joe Biden.
Amanda comes from Los Angeles and attended New Roads School before going to Harvard. In 2014, she was named Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and in 2017, awarded the first ever US National Youth Poet Laureate. and honed her craft through an LA-based writing group, WriteGirl.
Here is an article from The New Yorker about her use of words (paywall).
Here is the her new book – to inspire a new generation with words and protest. It rocked to #1 on Amazon the moment she finished her speech. Buy it and give to to a child you love.
Fabulous post to click on: “10 Things to Know (and love) about Amanda Gorman” post which tells you all you need to know – from how she overcame a speech impediment to repping Prada to her new books to her plan to one day be President.