‘I Am the Daughter of Black Writers’: Amanda Gorman on the Sanctifying Power of Words

Delightful interview with Anderson Cooper and everyone’s favourite youth poet laureate. Gorman’s observations about how words have fared under Trump are especially illuminating:

COOPER: It’s so interesting to me that you’re not thinking visually, that it’s not the images that motivate you — it’s the text, the words that you come across.

GORMAN: To me, words matter. And I think that’s what made this inauguration that much more sentimental and special. We’ve seen over the past few years the ways in which the power of words has been violated and misappropriated. And what I wanted to do is to reclaim poetry as that site in which we re-purify, re-sanctify not only the Capitol building which we saw violated, but the power of words, and to invest that in the highest office of the land.

Words. Another gift that Trump and his acolytes have tried to steal or ruin. Gorman is living proof that they haven’t fully succeeded:

COOPER: I understand you have a mantra that you say before every reading you give. Can you reveal what that is?

GORMAN: Certainly. I do it whenever I perform, and I definitely did it this time. I close my eyes and I say: “I am the daughter of Black writers. We are descended from freedom fighters who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me.”

They do indeed.


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