“The making of plans,
When this is over,
The We can’t wait,
Really our knuckles rapping
Against the future, sounding
Out what lies beneath its hull.”

Practice Makes People

Call Us What We Carry, Amanda Gorman’s debut poetry collection, is the last book I finished in 2021, and I thought it appropriate to post this brief review today, on the anniversary of the January 6 insurrection. Gorman’s reading of “The Hill We Climb” during President Biden’s inauguration seemed at the time to be the antidote to that day, the great hope for a more perfect, or at least less terrible, Union. Gorman’s performance was a perfect moment.

This book is a good collection of poetry, it includes meditations on the difficult year(s) the world had, some insightful plays with the form, some contextualizations of historic or non-poetic texts that reminded me of Claudia Rankine. At the same time, some poems feel weighed down by the expectations, the pressure to recreate that inaugural moment, to be the next great poet laureate, to be the next Maya Angelou, to be the next Toni Morrison. Amanda Gorman isn’t there yet, and the best passages are when she does not attempt to be presidential, but is instead “just” an immensely talented, very young poet. While I didn’t love everything about this book, I still can’t wait to read what she does next.

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