Posts Tagged ‘Amanda Gorman’


National Poetry Month

April 1, 2021

Happy new month

We can, and many educators do, use poetry and creative writing in their classrooms whether they teach English Language Arts or another subject. Many arts educators use poetry to enhance, dove-tail, and/or integrate into their arts subject. When Amanda Gorman recited her poem at the Presidential Inauguration in January it made a huge impression on citizens of all ages. If you’re not incorporating poetry into your arts classroom I can’t think of a better time to do so.

In recognition of National Poetry Month this post is about resources and opportunities about learning more about poetry. You may find it useful for yourself and for your students. If you have any resources please feel free to share at the bottom of this post or email me at and I can include them in a blog post for others to learn from.


  • Tim Needles is an artist and a veteran art teacher who uses poetry in his art classroom. The article Video Poems Add Digital Literacy to Creativity and Expression was authored by Jerry Fingal for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) blog. Needles suggests places for teachers to start and tips for success in using the simplest forms of technology when making a visual poem. He also goes into ideas for connections with other subjects including STEAM ideas. “Teachers can start with simple poetry, like a haiku, and use whatever technology is available. As for images, nature is always good for visuals.” An aside, if you’re interested in technology standards ISTE is the place to look.
  • is a website filled with resources. You can subscribe (on the front page) and receive in your email box a “poem-a-day”. Each month there is a guest editor which changes the flavor month to month. You can read the poem or listen to it being recited. At the end there is a small segment called “about this poem” which provides interesting information about the poem. Very informative.
  • The Academy of American Poets is providing their Annual Gala, this year entitled Poetry & the Creative Mind. It is normally held in person but this year, the 18th celebration, will be held virtually. You can register at no cost. The event is on April 29, 7:30, and marks the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Month.
  • The Poetry Out Loud finals are held annual with each state represented by one high school student. If they’re lucky to make it through the three rounds they will each recite 3 poems that they have practiced over and over and know insider out. This year the national event will be held virtually with the semi-finals held on Sunday, May 3 and the finals on May 27. Both events will be streamlined on  You can learn more about the events at THIS LINK. The Poetry Out Loud site has a huge collection of poems that you can download.
  • If you’re interested in joining a group of people who are working on writing poetry consider participating in The Poetry Place. Maine Teaching Artist Brian Evans-Jones established the Poetry Place. Brian is a member of the Maine Arts Commission roster and has participated in the Maine Arts Leadership Initiative (now MAEPL). For several years he was involved in Maine’s Poetry Out Loud (POL) program as a judge and he worked with two of our state representatives who represented Maine in the national POL program.
  • The Poetry Foundation has numerous resources including poems that you can read, download, and listen. Check out their site for all they have to offer.

Amanda Gorman

Just after the presidential inauguration Amanda told “CBS This Morning” co-host Anthony Mason: “Poetry is a weapon. It is an instrument of social change…and poetry is one of the most political arts out there because it demands that you rupture and destabilize the language in which you’re working with. Inherently, you are pushing against the status quo. And so for me, it’s always existed in that tradition of truth-telling.”


Super Bowl

February 9, 2021

One of us!

Each year the Super Bowl includes the arts at some level with music, movement, and creativity at its best and oh, those commercials! I sometimes wonder how many individuals who work on creating the commercials were “ARTS” kids in school? This year many of the commercials communicated much more about where we are as a country and how much work and thought and change needs to happen in order to grow. My favorite commercial by far was the Jeep one with Bruce Springsteen. It wasn’t the promoting of Jeep that struck me but the message was so well communicated. The photography, the emotion, transitions, images, movement, color, and more – all of it grabbed me. If you didn’t see it, embedded below.

I grew up in a football family but I’m not crazy about the game this point in my life. However, I do watch for the ‘entertainment’ value which, as you know, sometimes it means sifting through ‘not so good stuff’ to get to the outstanding content. I was moved by the three individuals who were called Honorary Captains – veteran James Martin, educator Trimaine Davis and nurse manager Suzie Dorner. Suzie tossed the official on-field coin toss ceremony before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs faced off.

I was so proud to watch as one of us, a teacher, represented all of the amazing work that teachers are doing this year during the pandemic. Trimaine Davis said this about his role: “I’m really excited about this opportunity just to showcase that all three of us, myself, James and Suzie, share this common bond of service and stewardship,” Davis said. “The fact that we’re able to highlight the importance of this, that it comes from everyday folk who are in the position to do this work to inspire others, I think is incredible, and I’m so honored to have that opportunity.”

My favorite new poet, Amanda Gorman, recited the poem she wrote specifically to honor the three Honorary Captains. Amanda included these words describing Trimaine and below is the entire poem.

Trimaine is an educator who works nonstop. 

Providing his community with hotspots

Laptops and tech workshops

So his students have all the tools

They need to succeed in life and in school.


Boston Pops

February 7, 2021

We’ve all heard Amanda Gorman’s name at this point. Her performance of her original poem “The Hill We Climb” endeared her to many. Amanda has been making a splash and sharing her voice for some time. On July 4, 2019 Amanda accompanied Boston Pops conductor Keith Lockhart with the “Believer’s Hymn for the Republic”. She was 21 years old at the time and recently named the nation’s first ever Youth Poet Laureate. At the request of CBS This Morning, she wrote this poem honoring Independence Day. Gorman states that she was inspired by the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and for her performance she “wanted a musical and poetic composition that felt anthemic, which also spoke to the higher ideals of America — of belonging, of diversity… of equality.”


Happpppy 2021

January 25, 2021

Over the last month during the time that I wasn’t blogging 3 deer came to my backyard almost every night munching on the acorns that have piled up under our Oak trees. The time I may have spent blogging, which I often do late or early in the morning, I spent watching the deer. While the moon was bright and we had snow on the ground they stood out quite well and I could watch from one of two windows. They didn’t notice me when I stood perfectly still.

Considering we’re barely one month into the new year we certainly have experienced many BIG events. I’ve received many resources to help us navigate this world as teachers. Instead of going back and including them ‘after the fact’ I will try my best to incorporate them into blog posts moving forward.

I have to say as an art teacher I have enjoyed the enormous amount of very clever memes of Bernie in his mittens made by an elementary school teacher from Vermont. I loved reading an interview where she mentioned how surprised she was by the attention she was receiving because of the mittens she made for Bernie and the teachers at her daughters pre-school. She had sewn them and gifted them in 2017 in her craft room on a machine that her mother gave her when she was 12 years old. She also mentioned that she had no desire to leave teaching to make mittens full time. She has received hundreds of requests for mittens. My heart warmed when I read that sweatshirts with the photo were being sold for $45 on Bernie’s website with all the proceeds going to VT Meals on Wheels. Creativity benefitting a good cause!

I was so impressed with so many of the components of Inauguration Day, especially the performers. This includes the hopeful words of Yo Yo Ma and his cello performance of “Amazing Grace” delivered to President Biden at the Lincoln Memorial. “Throughout the pandemic, Ma has been delivering cello offerings on Twitter, bringing peace through music in a time of pain for many.” (from Lady Gaga’s rendition of the National Anthem was stunning and her outfit spoke volumes in its representation of traditions. The gold colored dove that she wore was a dove carrying an olive branch symbolizing her wish: “May we all make peace with each other.” She went on to say “My intention is to acknowledge our past, be healing for our present, and passionate for a future where we work together lovingly. I will sing to the hearts of all people who live on this land. Respectfully and kindly, Lady Gaga”. I read comments from some of my Maine music colleagues that this was the first time I was brought to tears listening to “The Stars Spangled Banner” brought me

Outstanding performances by Garth Brooks, Demi Lovato, Jeff Bradshaw, Jennifer Lopez, New Radicals, Earth, Wind & Fire, John Legend, and Tom Hanks hosting the TV special.

By far, for me, the highlight of the day was Amanda Gorman’s performance of her poem “The Hill We Climb”. Perhaps it is because I was responsible for the Maine Poetry Out Loud program for the six years I worked at the Maine Arts Commission. I loved and admired the high schoolers who participate in the program. Amanda had all of the components of amazing poetry and by far her performance was truly remarkable. Amanda is 22 years old and the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, suggested by Dr. Jill Biden to recite. She is an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied Sociology. Amanda is the first National Youth Poet Laureate. I love hearing her goal is to become President. I’m sure whatever pathway she is on she’ll continue to inspire and make a difference in this world.

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.

I am hopeful for 2021 and the future as the artists mentioned above and so many more are given opportunities to let their voices be heard. Another reason why excellent PreK through 12 Arts Education should be afforded to all children no matter their zip code.

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