Rating: 5 Stars
Representation: Black American Woman
Content Warning: Discussions of collective trauma, grief, institutional racism, & white supremacy
Formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, Amanda Gorman’s remarkable new collection reveals an energizing and unforgettable voice in American poetry. Call Us What We Carry is Gorman at her finest. Including “The Hill We Climb,” the stirring poem read at the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden, and bursting with musical language and exploring themes of identity, grief, and memory; this lyric of hope and healing captures an important moment in our country’s consciousness while being utterly timeless.
After the inauguration in January, I saw that Amanda Gorman had a couple of books coming out in the Fall and I immediately ordered them. Although I was sad to have to wait longer for this book than the original publisher’s release date, I understand why. Call Us What We Carry is a historical document. This book of poems encapsulates much of the collective trauma of the pandemic, unrest, and arguments of 2019-2021. Gorman connects these past two years to the events of over 100 years ago such as World War I, the Red Summer, the Great Influenza epidemic of 1918, and more. This book is emotional, validating, and cathartic.
Gorman is the voice of her generation. Brought up with school shootings, political unrest, economic instability, and racial consciousness. Still, she breathes hope into her poems because,
as she explains, one has to strive towards hope in order to have it. Despite her optimism, Gorman calls out white supremacy in its many forms as well as those who have done harm and choose to victimize themselves to avoid facing it. One of my favorite quotes from the book is:
Some were asked to walk a fraction / of our exclusion for a year & it almost destroyed all they thought they were. Yet here we are. Still walking, still kept…
To be kept to the edges of existence is the inheritance of the marginalized.
Visually, this book is gorgeous! The cover is textured, almost as if the author wanted to show how many times she ripped up her original poems to begin anew. In fact, a lot of the imagery in this book is connected to metaphors of floods, ships, battles, and renewal. Gorman seems to say, we’ve been through this before and we will do it again.
Some of my favorite poems are:
The Soldiers (or Plummer)
_ _ _ _ _ [GATED]
FURY & FAITH
I recommend Call Us What We Carry to anyone ages 14 and up. However, I recommend that you take your time with it as it is heavy.