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Super Bowl first: Amanda Gorman debuts poetry on a new stage

Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet who stirred America at the inauguration of President Joseph Biden last month, again commanded the spotlight on one of the country’s biggest stages, the Super Bowl.

Gorman read an original poem Sunday during the pregame festivities in Tampa, Florida. The poem, titled “Chorus of the Captains,” was a tribute to three people for their contributions during the pandemic: educator Trimaine Davis, nurse manager Suzie Dorner and Marine veteran James Martin.

Gorman didn’t perform on the field but appeared in a taped video message that combined Gorman’s reading with images of Davis, Dorner and Martin. Recited Gorman:

“Let us walk with these warriors,

Charge on with these champions,

After a ‘post truth’ presidency, can America make facts real again?

And carry forth the call of our captains.

We celebrate them by acting,

With courage and compassion,

By doing what is right and just.

For while we honor them today,

It is they who every day honor us.”

That Gorman brought poetry to the Super Bowl was an almost unthinkable collision of grace and glitz. But if the Super Bowl, an annual rite of excess, was an unlikely platform for a poet, it showed just how much Gorman has seized the nation’s spotlight since the inauguration.

Gorman, previously the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate, was the youngest person to ever recite a poem at the U.S. presidential inauguration. Her reading of “The Hill We Climb” at the Capitol immediately became a sensation. An illustrated book of her poem quickly zoomed to the top of bestseller lists. Shortly after the inauguration, she signed with IMG Models, an agency that represents supermodels, tennis star Naomi Osaka and playwright Jeremy O. Harris. This week, she covers Time Magazine, in an interview conducted by Michelle Obama.

Gorman’s Super Bowl appearance had been planned before the inauguration. She seemed to grasp the unlikeliness of her pre-game reading, the first in Super Bowl history. And with potentially 100 million viewers on the CBS telecast, it made for one very well-attended poetry recital.

“Poetry at the Super Bowl is a feat for art and our country, because it means we’re thinking imaginatively about human connection even when we feel siloed,” Gorman said Sunday on Twitter. “I’ll honor three heroes who exemplify the best of this effort. Here’s to them, to poetry and to a Super Bowl like no other.”

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