Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Amanda Gorman to bring poetry – and politics – to the Super Bowl

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Hello, Broadsheet readers! Jill Biden takes family separation, Nasdaq CEO weighs in on GameStop situation, and Amanda Gorman to appear at the Super Bowl. Have a great Thursday.

– A star is born. The Internet very rarely agrees on anything. But during President Biden’s inauguration last week, the spirit of the digital hive seemed to find a point of consensus: Amanda Gorman is a star.

So it’s anything but a shock that we’re going to see a lot more of the 22-year-old who recited his poem “The Hill We Climb” on that cold January morning. This week, we have learned that IMG models will now represent Gorman for these fashion and beauty recommendations that are sure to come out. Her first volume of poetry is due in September, her first picture book is on the way and she has several other literary projects in the kitchen. And, oh yeah, she’ll be performing at the Super Bowl as well.

I personally have mixed feelings about this particular event – the NFL’s handling of issues like racism, police violence, and domestic violence has been botched at best. But we must not ignore the primacy it holds in American culture (more than 100 million people watched last year!). Gorman will be reciting a new written poem for now, although we know he will “recognize an educator, nurse and veteran for helping their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.

She is surprised! – the very first poet to perform with big game. Her performance at the inauguration proved that poetry deserves a place in popular culture, and I have no doubt that she will gain new fans for the art form with this showcase. But even more than the medium itself, this is the message I am eager to hear. Gorman said that she “must intertwine my poetry with a purpose. His poems probe American history, as well as our current reality, and confront questions of race, gender, economic inequality and other heavy and complex topics seldom supported by advertisements for light beer.

This is a big step forward for an event that previously seemed absolutely unprepared to handle even oblique references to race and politics. (Remember the drama on Beyoncé’s Black Panthers-inspired performance?) Taking that step forward by a spectacularly talented young black woman like Gorman is an inspiration – and a suggestion that even the most ingrained aspects of our culture can, in a gradual way, change.

 

Kristen bellstrom
kristen.bellstrom@fortune.com
@
Kayelbee

Today’s Broadsheet was organized by Emma Hinchliffe.



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