Amanda Gorman, the Inaugural Poet Who Dreams of Writing Novels

 

What kind of reading experience would you consider ideal? (when, where, what, how).

There’s a fire crackling nearby, and I’ve got a cup of hot tea, a quilt wrapped around my shoulders, and a thick book in my hands.

Since when have you been a fan of the form? What works of literature first piqued your interest in poetry?

As a result of the lack of emphasis on poetry in my schools at the time, I began writing my own before I began reading other people’s. “Shake Loose My Skin” was a book of Sonia Sanchez’s new and selected poems given to me by a writing mentor when I was in middle school. With every reading, I was more in love with it. Upon receiving a copy of “Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of African American Poetry,” I was overcome with a sense of relief and a sense of belonging. This is home.

Which poet or poetry collection inspired you to begin writing in the first place?

These aren’t poems, but I credit Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” and Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” with igniting my desire to pursue writing as a career. These stories intrigued me as a young reader, and I wanted to know how the authors came up with their ideas.

What poets’ works continue to influence you?

That’s like asking about the quality of the air I take in. For example, Lucille Clifton and Federico Garca Lorca are just two of the many notable poets who have contributed to the literary canon.

Over time, have there been any poets that you’ve grown to love?

Since he’s such a central figure in literature, Shakespeare is the clear winner. However, for the longest time, I was sceptical of Shakespeare because of this very reason. My teachers tried to force him into my mind as an example of a white man who looked like me when I was desperate to read about a person who looked like me. If you’re going to close yourself off to an author, at least read their work so that you can understand why. That was something I owe both to myself and to the literary world. That’s when Dr. Leah Whittington’s Global Shakespeare course piqued my interest. For the first time in my life, I was able to view Shakespeare through the prism of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity.