being a teacher, writing

Teaching Inauguration Poetry

We have been sinking into poetry the last few weeks, discovering found word poetry and trying to decide what poetry really is. We have read and listened to poetry. We have created black out poetry, book spine poetry, traffic sign poetry, song lyric poetry, terrible love poetry and now we sink into inauguration poetry.

We will sit in the beautiful words of Amanda Gorman from the poem she recied today “The Hill We Climb” and we will use it to start analyzing poetry in discussion groups, seeing what impacts us, what brings the words power, what makes them more than just a gathered collection of thoughts.

I know many others are also looking for ideas for how to bring this historical moment into their classrooms so I share my lesson slides for tomorrow in order for others to maybe use and make their own. There are two versions here, one focused on Amanda Gorman (note: at the time of this share her poem’s text has not been released so I am working off a transcript), one focused on Richard Blanco that I made before today.

21 thoughts on “Teaching Inauguration Poetry”

  1. This is awesome and I’m so grateful! We (my 5th graders) watched her recite her beautiful and powerful words today. What an honor!

  2. THIS is the epitome of great teaching-amazing teachers sharing with others for free because we have the best interests of our students in mind. I am so appreciative of all you do and share in order to make us all better teachers.

  3. I was in awe and completely riveted. Amanda Gorman’s words were brilliant, powerful and hopeful and inspiring. I immediately knew I needed to share them in our Canadian classroom. Thank you for sharing and making that a little easier.

  4. This is wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing. At the risk of being annoying, I want to point out that slide 7 labels her as Poet Laureate. I think you meant Inaugural Poet, which is the label on slide 6. Joy Harjo is the current Poet Laureate.
    Again, thank you for sharing this resource.

  5. Pernille,

    Thank you so much. This is outstanding, and I plan to share it with my tenth graders tomorrow!

    Peace, Katrina Morrison (she/her/hers)

    Currently Reading [image: Book Cover] [image: Goodreads Logo] Get your own email signature

  6. Thanks for sharing!!!!

    The Hill We Climb

    Amanda Gorman became the youngest person to deliver a poem at a U.S. presidential inauguration, with the 22-year-old reciting her poem “The Hill We Climb” after Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were sworn in as president and vice president.

    Gorman spoke for nearly six minutes.

    Amanda Gorman says she referenced ‘Hamilton’ in inauguration poem
    Amanda Gorman wore ring gifted by Oprah, honoring Maya Angelou at…
    Read a transcript of her remarks below:

    When day comes we ask ourselves,
    where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
    The loss we carry,
    a sea we must wade
    We’ve braved the belly of the beast
    We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace
    And the norms and notions
    of what just is
    Isn’t always just-ice
    And yet the dawn is ours
    before we knew it
    Somehow we do it
    Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
    a nation that isn’t broken
    but simply unfinished
    We the successors of a country and a time
    Where a skinny Black girl
    descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
    can dream of becoming president
    only to find herself reciting for one
    And yes we are far from polished
    far from pristine
    but that doesn’t mean we are
    striving to form a union that is perfect
    We are striving to forge a union with purpose
    To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
    conditions of man
    And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
    but what stands before us
    We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
    we must first put our differences aside
    We lay down our arms
    so we can reach out our arms
    to one another
    We seek harm to none and harmony for all
    Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
    That even as we grieved, we grew
    That even as we hurt, we hoped
    That even as we tired, we tried
    That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
    Not because we will never again know defeat
    but because we will never again sow division
    Scripture tells us to envision
    that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
    And no one shall make them afraid
    If we’re to live up to our own time
    Then victory won’t lie in the blade
    But in all the bridges we’ve made
    That is the promise to glade
    The hill we climb
    If only we dare
    It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
    it’s the past we step into
    and how we repair it
    We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
    rather than share it
    Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
    And this effort very nearly succeeded
    But while democracy can be periodically delayed
    it can never be permanently defeated
    In this truth
    in this faith we trust
    For while we have our eyes on the future
    history has its eyes on us
    This is the era of just redemption
    We feared at its inception
    We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
    of such a terrifying hour
    but within it we found the power
    to author a new chapter
    To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
    So while once we asked,
    how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
    Now we assert
    How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
    We will not march back to what was
    but move to what shall be
    A country that is bruised but whole,
    benevolent but bold,
    fierce and free
    We will not be turned around
    or interrupted by intimidation
    because we know our inaction and inertia
    will be the inheritance of the next generation
    Our blunders become their burdens
    But one thing is certain:
    If we merge mercy with might,
    and might with right,
    then love becomes our legacy
    and change our children’s birthright
    So let us leave behind a country
    better than the one we were left with
    Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
    we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
    We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
    we will rise from the windswept northeast
    where our forefathers first realized revolution
    We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
    we will rise from the sunbaked south
    We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
    and every known nook of our nation and
    every corner called our country,
    our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
    battered and beautiful
    When day comes we step out of the shade,
    aflame and unafraid
    The new dawn blooms as we free it
    For there is always light,
    if only we’re brave enough to see it
    If only we’re brave enough to be it

  7. Thank you so much, Pernille – this is fantastic!!!

    Shannon Hancock Superior Central High School Michigan’s Beautiful Upper Peninsula

  8. Pernille, thank you so much for sharing this amazing work! It is such a privilege to know you and to be able to piggyback off of the great ideas you and other teachers share. I can’t wait to dig into this with students.

  9. Pernille you never cease to amaze me with your creativity and generosity! I copied the poem today with intentions of planning my lesson this weekend. You saved me so much time. Thank you for sharing and inspiring your followers.

    1. Amanda was/is Brilliant, Beautiful, and did Incredible yesterday. She’s an Amazing young lady and very Inspirational. Such an honor to have been able to hear her and see her speak through her words of passion yesterday. I am a poet myself and I hope to inspire others one day with my work to find their Courage and Strength in their journey in life. Thank You Amanda for speaking your passion. Peace and Love Deanna Culver Appleton, Wisconsin

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