This morning the official Inaugural Planning Committee released its lineup for the Joe Biden/Kamala Harris inauguration ceremony next Wednesday. While most Americans are probably most excited to hear that Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez are performing, I was DELIGHTED to see a poet’s name on the list. And what a poet! Joe Biden has chosen Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old Black woman who is the first National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States.
Gorman, a Californian who graduated cum laude from Harvard University, is a writer and an activist, and writes a lot about issues such as feminism, race, and other social issues. However, she also writes some wonderfully uplifting and optimistic poems that fit right into the inauguration’s theme of “American United.”
For example, here is a poem that she wrote in early 2020 about the cororavirus:
The Miracle of Morning (2020)
by Amanda Gorman
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.
© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
You can see her recite it below on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/uuA0mF27raI
She has lots of incredible poems, but I think you can see from this one alone that she is a perfect choice for this inauguration. I always tells my students, when they ask why they have to study poetry, that poetry can express truths about the things that are so important that most of us can’t describe in words. Right now, so many people feel like they can’t put their feelings about recent events into words. So right now, it’s a time when we all really need some poetry.
I can’t wait to see what gift Ms. Gorman has for us on January 20.