First National Youth Poet Laureate On Poetry And Politics

Download Audio

Amanda Gorman made history in April when she was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate. As her yearlong term comes to a close, the Los Angeles native reflects on her tenure as laureate, the inspiration for her work and how poetry intersects with politics.

For more information on the Youth Poet Laureate selection process and to apply, click here.

Poet Amanda Gorman (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Poet Amanda Gorman (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)


Amanda Gorman, first National Youth Poet Laureate. She tweets @amandascgorman.

"Dandelion Wine" by Amanda Gorman

Our people have met centuries with our bodies entombed

under the coastline of a ribcage, pelvic shore.

Below waves they shrine our bodies in Vaseline

to breathe quiet into our pores

Homi neila cowoo, homi neila cowoo, hequed the crows, the sound chasing the stars.

I made room from coffin.

I dance in the tomb’s black

Because you dared stretch me on the cross of twilight.

You want me still as the wood raping my back.

Homi neila cowoo, homi neila cowoo, prays the coconut tree, palms together.

We make womb from coffin.

Flesh from crypt alabaster.

the way we were always born again

after we played dead for Master.

Homi neila cowoo, homi neila cowoo, hum the ancestors swaying in the Atlantic.

Sometimes I dream crawl along ancient forests.

I boast the eclipsed eyes of an owl and the savagery of a lion.

In such groves, unborn library, I learned to read, to weed

out vines for grapes, to make wine from dandelion.

Homi neila cowoo, homi neila cowoo, chant the ants, marching in a black plum-line.

I melt recipe under my tongue like sugar:

Mason jar swelling with molasses, black girl laughter, lye.

Bury the potion deep enough to breaks soil’s hymen,

And it makes a willow weep toward the sky.

Is that still weeping?

Or is that reaping?

Homi neila cowoo, homi neila cowoo, the weeping willow smiles anew.

We have a saying: vide neingu racilo abona.

don't shoot,

Brown trees put their hands up, afraid of death, but more so life.

You see, branches and roots are the same, I’ve found.

Trunks don’t rise, they’re just wise enough to fall into the sky.

Away. Away. We are grounded in the absence of ground.

We be free, 

Be poet, we

Be poet tree,

Be poetry, 

Homi neila cowoo, homi neila cowoo we sing, splitting open the sky

as light unfolds back into our mouths.

This segment aired on February 26, 2018.



More from Radio Boston

Listen Live