The following is a guest post by the inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman. This is the conclusion in a series of monthly blog posts that Amanda contributed during her 2017-2018 laureateship.
Can you believe that this is my last “Poet Diaries” post? That it is National Poetry Month already? That we are just around the corner of announcing our second Youth Poet Laureate of the U.S.?! What can I say? Time flies when you’re having fun writing and sharing poetry.
As it is both National Poetry Month and the last month of my tenure, this is an amazing opportunity to reflect on this chapter and the stanzas waiting to be written. Looking back, there have been some truly life-changing moments for me: getting to read with Tracy K. Smith at the Library of Congress, reading with the five National Youth Poet Laureate finalists at that same location with Jacqueline Woodson in attendance, giving a poetic State of the Union Address on MTV, writing a coda to Black History Month for The New York Times. But there are also the moments that get less press: I’ve been pen-palling with a young poet named Solveig, who I visited on an elementary classroom trip in Cambridge. She entered a haiku into the United Nations International School’s Student Poetry Contest and received an honorable mention! All that to say, this is really what being U.S. Youth Poet Laureate is all about: the excitement of watching new, young poets from around the world putting their writing out there and daring to be heard. And if I can be a small part of that process? Wow, there’s nothing greater.
This National Poetry Month has been particularly exciting. I got to visit Colorado for the first time and speak at the Conference on World Affairs at the University of Colorado, Boulder. I read poetry inspired by female visual artists at the Vital Voices Art of Disruption event in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the Global Leadership Awards. I joined Boston Mayor Marty Walsh in celebrating the lifelong leadership of Hubie Jones, and I’m working with the University of Iowa’s Green Room in launching Prompt for the Planet, an initiative to get student writers from around the country to creatively write about their concerns for the environment. I also have the honor of judging the global poetry competition Write the World, which you should enter if you’re a young writer.
At our reading at the Library of Congress this March, the Regional Youth Poets Laureate discussed how their work continues with or without a title, and I couldn’t agree more. For me, being a poet is a lifelong commitment to both poetry and people. I can’t wait to see what new ideas and achievements the next National Youth Poet Laureate brings to that commitment. I’ll be there, writing my gratitude and excitement the whole way through.