Left inspired and impressed by a poem recited at Joe Biden's inauguration as US President, former New Zealand poet-laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh has put pen to paper to craft her own poem in response.
By Ashleigh Yates
Amanda Gorman's performance of The Hill We Climb stunned attendees at this morning's ceremony in Washington DC with her words resonating around the world.
"I think she didn't leave anyone behind in that performance," Tusitala Marsh told 1 NEWS.
"One girl's story of her whole nation in a way that everyone can relate too. Even us here in Aotearoa New Zealand."
The 22-year-old was handpicked by First Lady Jill Biden to perform her work, becoming the youngest poet to perform at a presidential inauguration.
Gorman only finished the poem after the storming of the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters two weeks ago.
"Poetry calls on you to make these connections and then it becomes larger than you as a poet. You are the voice of your people. As a laureate, you represent your nation at every level. That's the role as laureate's as well. It's about casting your net wide enough to catch what's there right in front of you," Gorman says.
Marsh says the young poet's performance crosses many world firsts.
"She is not only the youngest youth poet laureate at age 22, she's a young black woman, working class judging by the fact her solo mother parent is a teacher at middle school and incredibly stylish. She is wearing sun yellow and blood red in her hair. She is quite elemental and of this time," Marsh says.
"One of the things that struck me about The Hill We Climb which is the name of that poem, is that it's like a hill.
"You can visually see her taking you by the hand and climbing step by step up that hill with imagery upon imagery.
"Speaking to the global pandemic, the pandemic of the elections, the state of the elections, the hell hole that America has been in and as a nation have voted their way to climb up and out.
"The poem itself reaches, holds our hand, and helps us climb to the top so we are left at the top with those beautiful final words."
"I can very well see her or someone like her being President of the United States one day. Especially if the wisdom in this poem can be embedded into the hearts of the American people and the hearts of all of us."
Reflecting on Gorman's performance, Marsh wrote the poem below titled, The Yellow Hill.
She knows why
the caged bird
sings, canary in the gold
mines singing words that sting
and heal at the same
time, wisdom sublime
in rhythm and rhyme, in Gorman time
inauguration words fly free
if we are brave enough
to let them be.