by Kathie England

Inspired by a Poet

Reading one poem a day is a new habit I started to develop last year.

I am currently reading poems by Amanda Gorman who became the sixth and youngest poet to deliver a poetry reading at the inauguration of an American president. On January 20, 2021, the inauguration of President Biden, she shared her poem “The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country.”

One of my favorite inaugural memories was watching Robert Frost share his poetry at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy on January 20, 1961. At age 86, Frost was the first poet ever to speak at the inauguration of a president, reciting from memory “The Gift Outright,” when the glare of the sun prevented him from reading “Dedication,” a poem he had written specially for the occasion.

On January 20, 2009, Elizabeth Alexander shared her poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

What does inviting a poet to his inauguration say about these three presidents?

Gorman’s newest book of poems is Call Us What We Carry. Its book jacket states, “Harnessing the collective grief of a global pandemic, these poems shine a light on a moment of reckoning and reveal that Gorman has become our messenger from the past, our voice for the future.”

Here is one of my favorite poems so far in this book.

Every Day We Are Learning

Every day we are learning

How to live with essence, not ease.

How to move with haste, never hate.

How to leave this pain that is beyond us

Behind us.

Just like a skill or any art,

We cannot possess hope without practicing it.

It is the most fundamental craft we demand of ourselves.

May we each find hope and be inspired by a poet and be Who We Can Be!