'Even if we never get back to normal / someday we can venture beyond it / to leave the known and take the first steps. / So let us not return to what was normal, but reach toward what is next.'
Poet Amanda Gorman rang in the new year with an inspiring new poem. The National Youth Poet Laureate and Harvard graduate—who became an overnight sensation after her history-making reading of 'The Hill We Climb' at Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20—debuted her latest poem, 'A New Day’s Lyric,' in a new partnership with Instagram last week. A video of the 23-year-old reciting the poem inside an empty theater was shared to the social media platform's official account on Wednesday and has already been viewed over 3,642,984 times. In her own post to Instagram, Gorman explained that she wrote 'New Day's Lyric' to "celebrate the new year and honor the hurt & the humanity of the last one."
"May this be the day / We come together," Gorman powerfully recites. "Tethered by this year of yearning, / We are learning / That though we weren't ready for this, / We have been readied by it. / We steadily vow that no matter / How we are weighed down, / We must always pave a way forward. / This hope is our door, our portal. / Even if we never get back to normal / someday we can venture beyond it / to leave the known and take the first steps. / So let us not return to what was normal, but reach toward what is next."
In a separate post, Gorman also announced that she is raising money for the International Rescue Committee, an organization that provides lifesaving programs to vulnerable communities worldwide affected by the coronavirus pandemic as well as humanitarian crises. Instagram had already pledged $50,000 to the cause, she said. "I'm always shy to quote my own poems, but I believe it in my bones when I say: Come, look up with kindness yet, for wherever we come together, we will forever overcome," Gorman added.
In an interview with Vanity Fair ahead of the poem's release, the 'Call Us What We Carry' author explained that her latest poem was partly inspired by the stories of grief and perseverance she's seen shared on social media. "I just feel so fortunate that I've been able to do this project at all, let alone with a partner like Instagram. It's very rare in anyone's life that you might have the fortune, by which to call up one of the most global platforms in our world and say, 'Hey, I have this idea.' And get such an eager and enthusiastic response," she said.
"I'm looking forward to working with Instagram because part of what inspired me to write this New Year's poem was thinking about the narratives and the stories that I've seen shared throughout the past two years, whether it's reconciling with grief, loss, social change, climate change," Gorman continued. "And so, many of those narratives, I feel, we interact or meet with on social media. And Instagram's a really interesting platform... that is heavily focused on visuals, but there's also so much text going on—so much language. And often, more than not, when I'm having a difficult time writing a poem, I'll actually turn to what are the photos, what are the messages that I'm seeing online, and how can I represent that through poetry?"
"For example, there’s a line in 'The Hill We Climb,' which goes, 'We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it'—that actually came from me just scrolling through social media, seeing people's reactions to the January 6th Capitol riot. That is to say, I think the ways in which we interact and share our narratives is a huge source of not just poetry, but also power," Gorman added.