Was it Wednesday evening? Yes, where Robin Robert’s did a special 20/20 interview with famed inaugural poet Amanda Gorman. Only 23, she is already a hurricane force to be reckoned with.
The girl is making poetry cool again.
The interview was really well done and followed her humble beginnings and went through her first love of the written word and how she lives (as she writes) with such intention.
She was first struck by the written word in something like 3rd grade when the teacher was reading a book to the class (I’m blanking on the famous author) but he wrote a line about teeth being like candy fangs in a mouth (or some such) and she was immediately struck by the line and decided then and there to delve into word use and poetry.
Did you know that she spent most of her life with a speech impediment? Yeah, she had trouble with her R’s (kind of like the Babwa Wawa kind). She has worked really hard with a speech therapist to overcome it. I think that’s why she so clearly enunciates everything and speaks so deliberately and with precision.
Man has she been bestowed with honors, too. 1st teen poet laureate of Los Angeles when she was in high school. Chosen as first National youth poet laureate of the US. Youngest inaugural poet. Continuously compared to Maya Angelou. She’s published books of her poems. The list goes on.
She also got into Harvard- no big surprise. She’s probably one of the few folks I actually think deserve to be there. She’s wickedly smart. Hell, one of her poems is now featured in Harvard’s hallowed Wiedner library.
The interview also delves into how she uses her hands to narrate her poems. Again, she’s deliberate with her motions and it adds yet another dimension to the performances of her work. She focuses it in that 2 foot by 2 foot space from chest to head in order to go with her face and voice. Once she completes a poem, she works the gestures out along with the cadence and crescendoed of her voice while listening to film score music for inspiration.
In the 20/20 interview (as she was talking about the gestures and performance aspect) she read feom the poem now enshrined at Harvard. It’s called “In This Place (An American Lyric)”. Look it up- it’s brilliant. But I was particularly struck by one stanza- one line (one word, really):
There’s a poem in this place— a poem in America a poet in every American who rewrites this nation, who tells a story worth being told on this minnow of an earth
This “minnow” of an earth. What an interesting, clever word choice to decribe our home. Alive, yet tiny. Swimming in a galactic ocean. I’d never heard an earth metaphor like this before. I think that was my very own “candy fangs” moment.
The girl is also becoming a fashion icon. She dresses as deliberately as she chooses her words. Her outfits are curated for specific effects- and she’s good at it. I mean, that yellow coat, and the choice of turning the red head band into a tiara of sorts? Fucking brilliant. Instantly iconic. And she was a goldfinch shining in a sea of drabness that day. A ray of sunshine- a beacon of hope for the future. As was the poem.
And now she’s been on the cover of Vogue magazine. AND she just attended the Met Gala.
Oh, and did you know that She’s a twin? Man do I feel sorry for her sister. The other Gorman girl. I mean, how would you feel, knowing your twin is friends with Oprah, spoke at the Inauguration, is a published author, landed the cover of Vogue, and co-chaired the Met Gala?
And I get the distinct impression that Amanda is just getting started. I, for one, can’t wait to see what’s next.