Amanda Gorman and using your voice to be heard
A post in honor of World Poetry Day
By Laura Guertin
Amanda Gorman quickly became a household name after she read her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the January 20, 2021, inauguration of the 46th President of the United States of America. President Joseph R. Biden was only the fourth president in U.S. history to have a poet read at his inauguration (see the listing of other poets/poems). For those that didn’t tune in for the televised coverage and hear the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States share her work, perhaps they caught Amanda recite “Chorus of the Captains” before the kickoff at Super Bowl LV.
Back in 1999, the United Nations declared March 21st as the date for the annual celebration of World Poetry Day to “recognize the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.” Amanda was certainly successful in capturing the attention of all those who listened/read these two poems, reflecting her incredible talent in utilizing words for expression and to bring people together. But even prior to 2021, Amanda was writing and reciting poetry for Planet Earth.
Here, I share two of her poems — “Earthrise” which was a part of the 2018 Climate Reality Project, and “Ode to Our Ocean” for the 2020 World Oceans Day celebration (in collaboration with Atmos, Lonely Whale, and Future Earth).
Blog post and text of poem “Earthrise”
Blog post and text of poem “Ode to Our Ocean”
As Amanda Gorman shares in this TED Talk, poetry is for everyone, and “poetry has never been the language of barriers… It’s always been the language of bridges.” So, what can we use our voices for? What do we want heard by others?
And yes, poetry is for scientists. You may want to check out examples in the online, peer-reviewed poetry journal Consilience that “explores the spaces where the sciences and the arts meet.” But Consilience and other examples like Rhyme Your Research are focused on sharing science and disseminating research in creative ways. Are there ways we can use our voices through poetry, as Amanda says, to create bridges?
What bridges do we need to build within our own communities to aid Earth’s materials and resources? Can poetry help us connect our ecosystems with volunteers and elected officials to make a difference?
Next month is Earth Day, with the theme for 2021 of Restore Our Earth. As scientists, why not challenge ourselves in the creation and celebration of poetry to engage new audiences, to bring people together, and to share our passions for climate literacy and environmental justice? For example, in Philadelphia, 74% of adults think citizens should do more to address global warming, but only 39% of adults discuss global warming at least occasionally. Perhaps we could open those doors to discussions on restoring our planet through poetry.
If you are inspired to author a poem, please share in the Response space below.