Saturday, October 17, 2020
I have learned that America has a National Youth Poet Laureate. The young person holding this title must demonstrate skill in the arts, particularly poetry and spoken words, also be a strong leader committed to social justice and actively advocate for it. The national competition for Youth Poet Laureate has been held for four years, and finalists usually are Poet Laureates for their cities or regions.
I happened to be listening to NPR during a recent interview with America’s first Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman of Los Angeles who received the title as a teen in 2017. She recently graduated from Harvard, is twenty-two years old, and still is an active writer, speaker, and community organizer. While interviewed, Gorman was personable, interesting, bright, and has written poems socially on-target and reader accessible.
The first stanza of this poem underlines Gorman’s scholarship. It explains the concept of “race” as a social description and reveals her skill with words.
What Words Begin
By Amanda Gorman
The word ‘race’ first arose
In the English language in 1508. Of course,
It appeared where all
words are born:
a poem. when
A Scottish writer
Spoke of a long line of kings,
And the dancing deadly sin of envy.
So what is a poem, if not a beginning?
An announcement that heralds itself?
Moments of air molded like melted wax.
I’ve spoken often of the one-hundred-year-old American poet, Sarah Yerkes. I admire her poems which look backward and stretch forward to the present. Her age-wise voice describes her younger self, compares her past and current perspectives, and concludes with a wise acceptance of the present.
It’s refreshing to learn of a Generation Z poet who’s recognized as aware, thoughtful, and active. She looks backward through social history at how social orders evolved. She writes using word skills that enlighten, impact, and teach the rest of us.
Relative to worldwide current social, political and climate upheavals, we are dependent on younger generations to grasp the magnitude of dangers now and opportunities ahead. It’s up to them to find pathways for smoothing, repairing, and resolving worrisome major issues.
It’s fabulous how a strong young voice illustrates an emerging greater intelligence about the social, political, and environmental conditions. The poet’s wise voice hints of upcoming generations aware and interactive. A large youthful dedication to making meaningful and widespread changes keeps us hopeful.
Dear Friends: Generational intelligence used to evolve slowly, now it’s on warp speed. Diana