It isn’t often I review a poetry book, but this one feels more like holding a piece of history in your hands. At that same bookstore, where we waxed poetic on The Invisible Library and Genevieve Cogman’s series, I discovered on the new release table, this bright yellow book, and had to have it. Yes, it was an impulse by, but as I read it, it became so much more.
I could still hear the passion in Ms. Gorman’s voice as she read her poem at the 2021 Inauguration, and wherever your passions lie, you can’t deny the power her words had to heal a country. This book has only this poem in it, though she does have a book titled also The Hill We Climb and Other Poems. But, I wanted this keepsake edition with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey and an inaugural poem by the sixth and youngest poet to deliver it.
The book itself is a short 29 pages each with a passage from the poem across its pages. But the passage I cannot escape is the one that gave title to the poem and to my mind is at the core of all this country holds dear.
"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 promised glade, The hill we climb, if only we dare it: Because being American is more than the a pride we inherit- It's the past we step into, and how we repair it."
As someone who got into writing by first writing poetry, it’s the cadence in the words, that set the stage for one might feel when reading it. Poetry is like art. Subjective. Every person who reads it or hears it may hear, learn, or feel something different, but no one can deny the power in its words.
Though I cross the pond every chance I get, there is a comfort in Amanda’s words, that all is not lost. That there is hope for the future. And that though there is a hill to climb, there is also a crest, a point to reach, and make it to the other side. The world watches its neighbors in a media-focused fishbowl, and while it has its dark moments, it has its opportunities, too. The opportunity to rise to be better than we were, the opportunity to reach and scale towering heights. And the opportunity to find that ‘together we stand, divided we fall.’
If you have a moment, I encourage you to read Ms. Gorman’s poem, The Hill We Climb, all the way through.
What did you think about the poem? Tell me in the comments.