Nikita Gill, The Independent
Poetry has always been the language of fire and comfort at once. If there is anyone who has proven that in the last month, it is Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman, whose US inauguration poem “The Hill We Climb” resonated far and wide across the globe, proving once and for all that poetry is a powerful, emotive medium capable of far-reaching change.
Gorman, 22, hasn’t stopped, since. Her performance of her poem “Chorus of the Captains” at the Super Bowl, this week, cemented that poetry – especially in times of unprecedented crisis – can be a source of fuel and hope.
In her poem, she paid tribute to three “honorary” Super Bowl captains – educator Trimaine Davis, ICU nurse manager Suzie Dorner, and marine veteran James Martin – chosen for their leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gorman is the first poet ever to lend her craft to the Super Bowl – which, last year, was watched by as many as 102 million people – and, much like her inauguration poem, she was able to captivate the world while hitting the exact note that was needed in this inordinately difficult year.
There is a reason why reactive poetry – and occasion poems, in particular – are striking such a chord right now. Poems are a monument to our emotional history. In times of crisis, hope is in short supply; while feelings run high and low at an increasingly unmanageable rate.
We long for a world that gives us something to hold onto, to anchor us. Poems give us the fuel that we so desperately need; they serve as sources of catharsis and hope, giving us the permission to feel deeply, and to feel together.
Ever since I was a child, I would turn to poems as a place of comfort, safety and deep understanding. When I felt small and beaten, Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” empowered me. When I couldn’t find the purpose to life, Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” helped me find meaning.
If I needed lessons on letting go, I need only to turn to Lucille Clifton’s “The Lesson of Falling Leaves”. One of the most wonderful things about these poems is how accessible they are – I have no formal education when it comes to poetry; I just love it – and now, with social media, poems are everywhere. You only need to seek them out by typing the word “poetry” into a search bar to find one you love.
It is no surprise that through this devastating pandemic, poetry has found a way to save me once again, this time in the shape of a little book of poems and affirmations I wrote during the first lockdown, called, “Where Hope Comes From”. I want the poems I write to make other people feel less alone in their pain, because I, too, rely on a whole arsenal of poets and poems to keep me going through grief – and they have never failed me.
Any art form that has the capacity to bring people together and help them through loneliness in a time of isolation, while also raising their spirits, is a powerful tonic. In her Super Bowl poem, Gorman focuses on three people who have helped build a community through leading, healing and educating.
This spotlight, told through rhythmic words that allow us to see the good that is rising, even in tragedy; is incredibly uplifting – and can make us want to do more to help and build community. Good work inspires further good work.
I have watched in awe at the way poems build diverse and strong communities, because poetry is the language of love. I have watched poems power revolutions, because it is the language of protest. And I have watched a poem by a young poet stop the world, and remind it that hope will conquer fear, that love will win over hate, that there is a brighter future to fight for.
As Amanda Gorman said: “There is always light, If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.” She is right. There is. And we are.
The meme depicts everything from Sanders' mittens touching Michelangelo's Hand of God in the Sistine Chapel, to the Vermont Democrat helping actor Demi Moore mould clay at the pottery wheel from the film "Ghost," to Sanders joining the World War Two Yalta Conference in 1945
On Wednesday night I sat in front of the news, watching the inauguration of the 46th president of the US. Truthfully, I only had half an eye on it. Then 22-year-old Amanda Gorman stepped up to the microphone and read her stunning poem
Former Vice President Joe Biden is trying to reassure voters. Like former President Obama, he is promising that “If you like your health plan, your employer-based plan, you can keep it.” Don’t bet on it. Some presidential candidates support directly outlawing private health plans, and replacing them with a single-payer, government-run health plan.
The 2020 election is shaping up arguably as the most fascinating presidential selection event in modern history. Republicans are going with an incumbent whose post-inaugural job approval until last weekend has never exceeded 46%, not coincidentally the exact same percentage of the popular vote he received.
Tuberculosis surrendered the title of the world’s deadliest infectious disease after COVID-19 struck, but it reclaimed that terrible distinction last year. As with COVID, a new vaccine could go a long way to sharply curtailing the disease, which killed about 1.4 million people a year before the pandemic and increased its deadly toll a bit
If you want a good summary of all that’s wrong with US politics right now, you could do worse than “The most important US election this year is the runoff for a seat on the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.” The April 4 run-off vote for a swing seat on the court would typically attract little notice. But Wisconsin, a fiercely divided state,
The International Chamber of Commerce has given an arbitration verdict in the 2014 case in favour of Iraq in the Iraq-Turkey dispute over oil supplies from the fields in the Kurdistan region in Iraq, and Turkey has to pay $1.5 billion. Turkey has said that it would honour the arbitration verdict. Turkey violated a joint agreement by allowing
From Zimbabwe, where many must work at night because it’s the only time there is power, to Nigeria where collapses of the grid are frequent, the reliable supply of electricity remains elusive across Africa. The electricity shortages that plague many of Africa’s 54 countries are a serious drain on the continent’s economic growth,