Kerenga Kua & lip ti no swit
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Young poet astounds at US inauguration

Amanda Gorman - "I want my words to be a point of unity...."


NOOSA – Papua New Guinea is not only a nation of mountains and minerals, it's a place of music and poetry.

Those of PNG’s many poets, young and old, who got to see young American poet Amanda Gorman, 22, perform yesterday would have been astonished.

Amanda made world headlines at the Biden-Harris presidential inauguration in the United States when she became the youngest poet to perform at an inauguration.

Gorman quote
Quote from a media interview with Amanda Gorman

Her poem was superb; as was her presentation of it.

Amanda told the BBC she felt "excitement, joy, honour and humility" when she was asked to take part in the ceremony, "....and also at the same time terror.

"I really wanted to use my words to be a point of unity and collaboration and togetherness," she said.

"I think it's about a new chapter in the United States, about the future, and doing that through the elegance and beauty of words."

Former US president Barack Obama, who was at the inauguration, tweeted, "On a day for the history books, @TheAmandaGorman delivered a poem that more than met the moment. Young people like her are proof that 'there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it; if only we're brave enough to be it'."

Here is the full text of Amanda's poem.

The Hill We Climb


When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We've braved the belly of the beast
We've learned that quiet isn't always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb
If only we dare
It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded
But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it

In this interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper after her performance at the inauguration, Amanda spent some time talking about how she approaches writing her poetry....



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Philip Fitzpatrick

Like a lot of people I was mesmerised watching the young poet, Amanda Gorman, reading her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb’, at the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States of America.

What surprised me was reading that she has an aspiration to become the president of the USA herself.

Why would anyone as smart and articulate as she appears to be want to become president I wondered?

I understand that it’s not uncommon for young people to aspire to the ‘highest office in the land’ but in most cases that’s just a statement about the magnitude of success they want to achieve in their lives rather than an express aim.

The same people often also say they want to be millionaires by the time they are thirty.

As they mature they tend to realise that the idea is more an expression of youthful arrogance than a realistic aspiration and abandon it.

In most countries, and particularly in the USA, very few leaders who reach such exulted positions are what could be defined as exceptional human beings.

Who would want to become a Donald Trump or a Boris Johnson, for instance? Who would want to become a Scott Morrison or a Peter O’Neill?

Who would want to sacrifice their lives in the quest for such power other than a narcissistic and ego driven individual with psychopathic tendencies?

The days when ideologically-driven individuals with the interests of good government and the welfare of all citizens sought such high office are long gone. Nowadays aspirants to high office are invariably driven by narrow vested interests promulgated by shady corporations and organisations hiding in the background.

Perhaps Amanda Gorman thinks that she can change that situation. Perhaps she has some sort of Utopian scenario in mind.

The Irish poet, dramatist and novelist, Samuel Beckett once said, “poets are the sense, philosophers the intelligence of humanity” (I Can't Go On, I'll Go On: A Samuel Beckett Reader, 1976, p.148, Grove/Atlantic, Inc.).

It is remarkable how much influence poets and philosophers have in the world. Those few decent individuals who reach leadership roles, including presidents and prime ministers, are invariably well-read and cultivate their ideals based upon what they read.

A good leader actually takes their cue from poets, writers and philosophers.

What is really concerning about Amanda Gorman is the potential for her beautiful mind to be corrupted by her aspiration.

It is possible (but unlikely) that Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, Scott Morrison and Peter O’Neill once also embraced noble aspirations and look what they have become.

It is entirely possible that Amanda Gorman could turn into an American Maggie Thatcher if she pursues her presidential aspirations. That would be a sad tragedy indeed.

She is now a recognised poet with the potential to become a great poet. Perhaps her success has come too early.

Great poet or president of the USA? I know which option I would aspire to if I were her.

Bernard Corden

Not one exclamation mark or mindless adjectives such as as cool, awesome, excellent or perfect!!!!!!!

I have always maintained the USA will be OK when they finish it.

Daniel Kumbon

PNG writers are pushing to be heard as they proclaim that literature plays a part in the development of the country.

What a contrast to see poetry and music was brought to the forefront to heal and unite a country.

Indeed Amanda Gorman stole the show.

She delivered with grace as did the singers. And the world watched.

Chris Overland

This young woman represents not just what is best about the USA but, more importantly, its future.

My guess is that the so-called "insurrection" and storming of the Capitol represents the initial death throes of a dying US culture.

A culture based upon a combination of overt or covert white supremacist thinking and gross inequality of people of colour its main victims.

There is a fair share of ignorance and an inability to comprehend that constitutional arrangements that made sense in 1775 are, in some respects at least, no longer fit for purpose.

Of course, this does not mean that rational and necessary change will take place quickly or without conflict.

Joe Biden can begin the task of reform but it seems improbable that he will complete it. That will be left to future generations when the USA has become, as it will, dominated by people of non-Caucasian origin.

As an aside, this too is the destiny of Australia and much of the western democratic world as well.

The tide of history is running and will not be turned by idiots with guns or wearing a bizarre headdress whilst calling upon God to bless their futile endeavours.

In the meantime, we can rejoice in the artistry, words and wisdom of Amanda Gorman.

Dominica Are

A thrilling piece delivered with grace.

Philip Fitzpatrick

She's an amazing young woman and her reading was stunning.

She's put poetry on the front page. A great day for poets everywhere.

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