Friday, January 22, 2021

Meet Amanda Gorman

When Amanda Gorman was named the first ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2017, I was thrilled! It's always wonderful to see poetry lifted up, especially with awards, but when it's a YOUTH Poet Laureate, well, that makes me VERY happy! I immediately tried to find out if she had published any books (she hadn't at that time) and if she might be available to be part of presentations I was planning-- including the Poetry Round Up at the Texas Library Association conference. Sadly, that never happened and I'm pretty sure it won't be happening now! ;-) 

Meanwhile, I learned that "the National Youth Poet Laureate program celebrates our nation's top youth poets that are committed to artistic excellence, civic  engagement, and social justice." It's a program of Urban Word, "an award-winning youth literary arts and youth development organization" based in both New York and Los Angeles. The program is supported by the Academy of American Poets, Poetry Society of America, the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Parks Service, Cave Canem, and many more. You can find more information here. The current National Poet Youth is 16 year-old Meera Dasgupta, from New York, chosen from among the Youth Poet Laureates from across the U.S. I was excited to see that my city, Dallas, has a Youth Poet Laureate program, so I need to check into that ASAP! 

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, all across the United States, people sat in rap attention as the first Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, delivered her original poem, "The Hill We Climb" at the Inauguration of President Joe Biden. IT WAS INCREDIBLE! Not only was her original poem fresh, powerful and engaging, but she delivered it was such confidence and panache, with expressive hands, a beautiful, glowing face, wearing a bright yellow coat and the pop of a red hand band in her hair wrapped high on her head. At age 22, she took her moment and soared and we all soared with her! If you missed it or simply want to experience it again, here's a recording of her reading.


Wow, right? I just love that a young person had this magical moment, a young Black woman lifted us all up and challenged us to be brave enough to see the light and BE the light!

I spent much of the day looking for the TEXT of the poem and finally found it available-- in several forms. I'm still not sure exactly how she intends the poem to look (in terms of spacing), but this is one version: 

A picture book version of her now-famous poem illustrated by Loren Long was set to be published in September, but just yesterday Penguin Random House revised their website to indicate it would be published in April instead, possibly NOT as a picture book. We'll see. 

Meanwhile, she does have a picture book illustrated by Loren Long due out in September entitled Change Sings: A Children's Anthem that is a call to activism. 

You can read more about Amanda, her life, her struggle with a speech impediment, and her activist views here and here. In addition, TONS of lesson plans have popped up online with ways to share and teach Amanda's powerful poem. I recommend beginning by watching Amanda perform it (multiple times) and soaking it up, because there is nothing quite like hearing the poet read her own work out loud-- and when it becomes a historic moment too, well, that's the power of poetry! 

See you over at poet Laura Shovan's blog for our Poetry Friday collective!

17 comments:

jama said...

Thanks for sharing more about Amanda and the Youth Poet Laureates. Had not heard of this honor. It can get confusing for the average person -- Youth Poet Laureate vs. Young People's Poet Laureate. :)

Michelle Schaub said...

Loved learning more about Amanda Gorman and the Youth Poet Laureates. I'm really hoping Amanda and this program will open up the magic and power of poetry to a wider audience!

Fran Haley said...

Sylvia: Following the inauguration, so many people - especially young ones - have been enraptured by Amanda's poem and poetry itself. A true delight. I saw a tweet from someone in my school district asking why "we don't value this type of writing in our schools." It is high time we did, and I want to be part of that. I so appreciate your post and your heart here.

Linda B said...

It feels like Poetry Friday has gathered so much about Amanda Gorman, been inspired by her lines and her presentation, too, Sylvia. I have loved this day reading from so many who have shared about her. I see from your map that Denver has a Youth Poet Laureate program which I didn't know. Thanks for everything you shared!

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Bridget Magee said...

Ms Gorman is a superstar! I'm happy to see her shining brightly and calling on us all to be brave enough to see it and be it as well. :)

author amok said...

Thanks for joining in the round-up today, Sylvia and for sharing more resources on Amanda Gorman. What an exciting moment for our young authors, performers, orators.

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

The future of poetry is bright, indeed!

Janice Scully said...

Thanks for providing more info about national youth poets and Amanda Gorman. So glad there will be a picture book by her out soon.

Gail Aldous said...

What an amazing and inspiring young women! I have enjoyed reading many blogs with more information about her. I can't stop reading and listening her performance. So powerful and uplifting. Thank you for sharing more information on her and Youth Poet Laureates.

Mary Lee said...

Thank you for this informative post, and especially for a print version with possible formatting.

We're doing a slow read over the course of a week, looking for places where we think stanzas MIGHT occur (reading for meaning, but don't tell them that!). It will be fun to compare what we come up with and the photo you shared!

Kay said...

Thank you for sharing more resources about this fabulous poet, Amanda Gorman. I can't get enough and love how the country has responded to her and to her poetry.

Ruth said...

It was good to learn more about Amanda Gorman from your post. I know I loved sharing her with my students!

Carol Varsalona said...

Sylvia, the power of poetry was alive at the Inauguration through the voice of Amanda. So many of us have been touched by her powerful poem and her delivery. Thank you for more links-Going to delve into them.

Carol Varsalona said...

Sylvia, I see now as I review my comments that mine did not go through over the weekend so I am rewriting to let you know that I did read and tried to respond. I was fascinated that there are other youth poet laureates so thank you for that information. Amanda Gorman's poem and its delivery will be remembered forever. It was a showstopper so I look forward to hearing more about her in the future.

jan godown annino said...

Appreciations for all this research & generous sharing, with map on UrbanWord & Youth Poet Laureates, across the wide wonderful USA.Her performance is also sending me to look up more about spoken word poetry. It's great for young people in general & young writers, especially poets, to be able to look up to Amanda Gorman. And to feel our country values that young people choose Such a momentous time with expectations of a great ripple effects for good poetry & the written arts, from January 20th, forward.

Maria Ellen Connolly said...

Dear Sylvia,

I have just discovered your lovely blog.

I wonder if you'd be interested in featuring some of my poetry. My poetry is unpublished and if you would like to take a look I've showcased it on my facebook page - 'Maria's Poems for Children'.

Even if you decide my poems are not fitting I very much hope you enjoy reading them.

Many thanks and kind regards,
Maria Ellen Connolly
Email: mariaspoemsforchildren@gmail.com
Facebook: Maria's Poems for Children
YouTube: Mari's Poems for Children