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Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Gorman’

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We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice

Amanda Gorman, The Hill We Climb Inaugural Poem

These words from Amanda Gorman hit a nerve. As a white woman raised in the south in the 60’s and 70’s, Just Is was a part of the thread that wove the fabric of racism in our time. Echoes of that’s just the way it is rang through the school hallways I walked, the places we shopped, the neighborhood streets we rode. The only dark faces I saw were our maids and their children. 

Desegregation didn’t happen until I was in the 4th grade, 1971. I remember having no school for two weeks while the scramble to mix it up began. That was fun for us kids. When we returned to school, there were new faces, new teachers. My favorite was Miss Love. She was a large black woman with a great bosom for hugging you close. She gave us one of my favorite assignments, a state project. I chose Maine because the capital city is Augustus, my birthday month (of course!). I have never gone to Maine but have a special place for it in my heart because of Miss Love.

Change is easy for kids. Children don’t really know racism. I didn’t when I was ten. But now, in retrospect, I see more clearly how “just is” was not “justice.” I cannot change the past. None of us can. But we can do better when we know better, another famous quote from an African American hero– Maya Angelou.

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Poetry Friday round-up is with Laura Shovan.

Like the nation, I have fallen head over heals in love with Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet ever, and a heroine to many young girls just like the ones I teach. All girls, no matter their race, can now dream of being a Vice President someday. As much as I admire Kamala Harris and her accomplishments, the star of Inauguration Day was young Amanda Gorman. I couldn’t wait to present her to my students this week.

We started on Tuesday with her poem “In this Place (An American Lyric)” written for Tracy K. Smith’s inauguration as Poet Laureate in 2017. (This post from the Library of Congress contains the poem and a video from the reading.) As Kaia heard that poem, she was writing. And after class that day, she sent me two more poems. Amanda lit a fire in her, a flame for words.

There’s a poem in this place 
after Amanda Gorman


Not here nor there
But there’s no need to look everywhere
tug and pull on my hair 
Hoping that this poem, has time to spare

There’s a poem in this place 
While i’m in disgrace
Of finding my lyric
That belongs in this place

There’s a poem in this place
Still not being found 
Is it in a dog hound?
No, it weighs more than that one pound 

There’s a poem in this place
While the wind is hitting my face
Being withdrawn due to lack of space
Without leaving any sign of a trace

There’s a poem in this place 
Where could it be?
Wait, I have found it!
It’s in YOU
and ME. 

Kaia, 5th grade

On Thursday, we used Pernille Ripp’s generous gift of a slide show to visit and discuss “The Hill We Climb.” While the message of this poem was powerful, I was drawn to Amanda’s effective word choice, how they sound and how their meanings change with usage. Combinations like just is and justice, arms, harm, and harmony, and tired, tried, and tied. Chloe’s poem below is her good effort to play with word sounds like Amanda.

There’s a poem in sight 
Too bright
To fight
It takes flight 
To the world
of an artist
Who’s never artless
Who just started
to harness
The sharpest words
That bring out
The creativity
With a twist
And a big
Dream to
Feel like
They exist

Chloe, 5th grade

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