How nation’s youngest inaugural poet is inspiring First Coast artists

Amanda Gorman’s powerful speech is resonating among artists across the nation

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s all the buzz on social media with people still talking about the nation’s youngest inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, who took the world by storm with an eloquent speech on Inauguration Day.

“We the successors of a country in 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,” Gorman recited.

“She looked like me. She spoke for me. She had her beautiful natural hair. She had her beautiful brown skin. She stood in front of the world and spoke her truth. So, I felt a sense of pride. I felt seen and heard,” said Yvette Angelique, poet and storytelling facilitator activist.

Angelique, a Jacksonville poet, echoed the sentiments that many shared as they watched and listened to Gorman recite her inauguration poem “The Hill We Climb.”

The 22-year-old is the nation’s first youth poet laureate and the youngest inaugural poet.

Her inspiring words made her a household name and a social media favorite by the time her performance was over.

“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 arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all,” Gorman recited.

Press play below to watch Gorman’s entire recitation:

“She painted such a vivid experience of what we as a nation of people see right now happening in our country. She also gave us a sense of what hope and possibility could look like if we were up to the challenge. And she really gave us a call of action,” said Angelique. Angelique is also the chief storytelling officer at Narratives for Change, an organization focused on social arts practices that use storytelling to facilitate healing and advocacy work while creating new literary arts.

She said the words and language that Gorman recited have such a great impact.

“The power of language and words can be transformative because you can really articulate and grab an emotion that a lot of people can’t express for themselves,” said Angelique.

She hopes people remember the power their own words have in their lives every single day.

“What you speak into the world, you can create into the world. So, if you speak negativity, you create negativity. If you speak positive and strength-based words, you can create those words. So, for me it’s really being aware of your mindfulness about your thoughts and your language that you put into the world because that’s where it hangs and lives,” said Angelique.

While speaking on the power of words, Angelique said locals in the River City can take part in an exhibit called “The Community Tree -- A place of grief and hope.” The exhibit gives people a place to write their own words and hang them from an oak tree as a form of art and release. Here’s more information on the exhibit: https://www.yellowhouseart.org/projects/exhibits/.

“For there is always light,” Gorman recited. “If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

A brave girl inspiring a nation in need of healing.


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