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Amanda Gorman—Call Us What We Carry

In Conversation with Elizabeth Alexander

Public Programs | Words and Ideas

Watch selections from Amanda Gorman in Conversation with Elizabeth Alexander.

This is a past program

This program took place on
Thursday, December 9, 2021
Selections now streaming on YouTube

About the Program

Writers Bloc Presents® and the Skirball invite you to a livestream conversation with bestselling author, poet, and activist Amanda Gorman. Gorman will discuss her latest book of poetry, Call Us What We Carry, with decorated poet and scholar Dr. Elizabeth Alexander.

On January 20, 2021, Gorman captivated the nation, and the world, with her delivery of her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. Gorman was the sixth and youngest poet to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential inauguration and her recitation of “The Hill We Climb” received widespread praise from media who called the poem “flawless” (The Atlantic), “a stunning vision of democracy” (The New Yorker), and “deeply rousing and uplifting” (Vogue). In Call Us What We Carry, Gorman captures a shipwrecked moment in time and transforms it into a lyric of hope and healing. This luminous poetry collection explores history, language, identity, and erasure through an imaginative and intimate collage. 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, and a major voice for the future.

About Amanda Gorman: Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in US history. She is a committed advocate for the environment, racial equality, and gender justice. Gorman’s activism and poetry have been featured on the Today Show, PBS Kids, and CBS This Morning, and in the New York Times, Vogue, and Essence. After graduating cum laude from Harvard University, she now lives in her hometown of Los Angeles. In 2017, Amanda Gorman was appointed the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate by Urban Word—a program that supports Youth Poets Laureate in more than sixty cities, regions, and states nationally. Gorman’s performance of her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration received critical acclaim and international attention. The special edition of her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” was published in March 2021 and debuted at #1 on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestsellers lists. Gorman appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in February 2021 and was the first poet to grace the cover of Vogue in their May 2021 issue. She was Porter magazine's July 2021 and WSJ Magazine’s September 2021 cover star and received The Artist Impact Award at the 2021 Backstage at the Geffen Awards. She was named one of Glamour magazine’s Women of the Year in November 2021. Her debut picture book, Change Sings, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list in September 2021, and her poetry collection, Call Us What We Carry, will release in December 2021. Please visit theamandagorman.com.

About Elizabeth Alexander: Decorated poet, educator, memoirist, scholar, and cultural advocate Dr. Elizabeth Alexander is president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder in arts, culture, and humanities in higher education. Dr. Alexander has held distinguished professorships at Smith College, Columbia University, and Yale University, where she taught for fifteen years and chaired the African American Studies Department. She is Chancellor Emeritus of the Academy of American Poets, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, serves on the Pulitzer Prize Board, and co-designed the Art for Justice Fund. Notably, Alexander composed and delivered “Praise Song for the Day” for the 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama and is author or co-author of fourteen books. Her book of poems, American Sublime, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 2006, and her memoir, The Light of the World, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography in 2015. Her next book, The Trayvon Generation, is forthcoming in April 2022.

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