Amanda Gorman is our National Youth Poet Laureate. Lucky us.
The title isn’t an oxymoron — it’s not impossible for a young person to be a great poet — but the appellation doesn’t sit well on Gorman. “Laureate” means a person who is honored with an award for outstanding creative or intellectual achievement. Gorman has achieved little as a poet, other than being named youth poet laureate.
If Gorman has distinguished herself at all, it’s as a left-wing activist. And young people make better activists than they do poets. But “National Youth Left-wing Activist Laureate” doesn’t have the same ring. Plus, there’s too much competition for that honor.
Gorman recited one of her poems during Joe Biden’s inauguration. Scott wrote a takedown of her lame effort. He described it as “part doggerel, part vacuous word play, part concatenation of leftist cliches [that] carried on the smashmouth politics of Biden’s speech in a different form.” I agree.
However, the poetry lovers (or activists) at the NFL seem to have been impressed. Thus, Gorman will recite a poem at the upcoming Super Bowl. How did that event ever manage without a poetry reading?
Gorman is being smuggled into the proceedings on the pretext of honoring three honorary Super Bowl captains, all of whom served the public during the pandemic. Her remit is to come up with an original poem in their honor.
This is clever by the NFL. The league signals its virtue to BLM and the rest of the left through Gorman’s participation but, by having her write about non-partisan heroes, it can claim political neutrality.
But poets, even bad ones, are also clever. They specialize in using word play to convey meaning at more than one level. Thus, I wouldn’t bet against Gorman smuggling some political content into her reading.
It will be interesting to see whether she does — to see who plays whom. But not interesting enough that I’ll be watching.