Tuesday, February 23

From Greta Thunberg to Amanda Gorman: the fragile girl as a symbol of nonconformity

  • Takeover.

    A star has been born

Malala Yousafzai, Greta Thunberg and Amanda Gorman: the line that joins these three points reveals that there is a new political character, hitherto undiscovered but irresistible for the 21st century: that of the young woman, sometimes a girl, with a fragile appearance and assertive language who carries a message of urgent moral renewal. In other words, the opposite image to that of the classic transaction politician: man, white, in a suit, almost old, almost obese … The perfect culprit of 2021, Dona’s robot portrait

ld Trump.

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.

Somehow we do. / Somehow we have resisted and we have witnessed / a nation that is not broken, it is only unfinished. / We are 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 being president / and discover herself reciting for one. / And yes, we are far from immaculate. / Far from being pristine. / But that does not mean that we are not striving to form a perfect union. / We strive to forge a union with a purpose, / to compose a country committed to all the cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.

You have to remember that, even if she looks like it, Amanda Gorman is not a girl. Gorman is 22 years old, has a degree

cum laude

in Sociology at Harvard and was America’s first young poet laureate. His resume is outstanding. However, it is inevitable to associate the impact you have created after reading a poem in the

keynote address by President Joe Biden

with the sailing trip of the teenager Greta Thunberg in December 2019 and her arrival by train at the Madrid Climate Summit. Thunberg was then greeted by heads of state, presidents of government and CEOs as an almost genuflecting attitude.

Gorman has appeared in the last few weeks at the Superbowl

(read another poem written for doctors and victims of the pandemic) and in

‘late night shows

as no other poet has done before. His second book already

It is the most sold on Amazon even though only reserve orders can be placed

. The copies are not yet in stores. On April 8, there will be a Spanish edition with the title of

The hill that we ascend

(Lumen). One glance at Gorman’s television interviews is enough to understand the difference between Greta and Amanda. At her peak, Thunberg was a 16-year-old adolescent engaged in heroic endeavor:

load on their shoulders with all the environmental guilt of the world and show them to their fellow men to achieve their redemption

. Thunberg is also a girl who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, probably in a mild form, and who has an impassive face.

She’s not joking, she’s not cute, and she’s not pretending to please the public.

. When he arrived in Lisbon from his crossbar, he expressed his physical exhaustion with transparency. Thunberg looked like those days about to break down. Gorman, on the other hand, seems like a woman gifted with humor, also with self-parody. He has a good voice and good presence and

is able to laugh at herself for the silly illusion that made her see herself dressed in a branded coat and turban in the Capitol

. She plays at being a normal girl who is suddenly seen on television. Gorman controls his character, takes advantage of it and adapts it to each medium. She presents herself as a descendant of slaves, a daughter of a single mother, and a former


that she had to learn to speak with a speech therapist. In social networks, he handles language with agility: sometimes he disguises himself, sometimes he is an activist. Put photos

Obama, Martin Luther King, Kobe Bryant and also the rapper Snoop Dogg because not all are going to be perfect civic examples.

It talks about African American culture and feminism, but also about Prada. Sometimes she is a joker and a little goose; other times she is feisty and defiant. Instead, he doesn’t post his poetry on Instagram. That: and poetry?

The hill we climb

, the poem he read in Washington, is a composition of

723 words expressly written for Biden’s inauguration

. Apparently it was the now-first lady, Jill Biden, who noticed Gorman and made the commission, according to one

tradition of the Democratic Party.

Since the 1960s, five of its last six presidents have invited poets to their inaugural addresses: John F. Kennedy, James Carter, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and now Joe Biden. Anyone understands that the gender of

capitol poem

it is difficult. The poet is expected to make a portrait of his nation that shows nobility its cracks (some, not all), but that, in the end, appeals to the sense of community and love of the land to repair the wounds. More or less that is

The hill we climb

. “A country beaten but whole / benevolent but bold / fierce and free,” writes Gorman, who, at the very least, has the courage to avoid euphemisms. His verses speak of the “catastrophe” of recent years in the United States and address the trauma of racial violence. In the last line, it appeals to the reader to see the world with moral eyes:

“If only we are brave enough to be the light”

. How to judge

The hill we climb

? A joking user of the social network


has written that it is a relief to remember that

critic Harold Bloom is no longer alive

because it would have been primed with Gorman. Probably, yes: Bloom was a wonderful reader at detecting the uniqueness of the literature, its human depth, but she was also

a disdainful critic with any ‘identity merit’

(feminist, Hispanic, black, LGTBI …). He was so disdainful that his vision of literature today seems from another era. Another Goodreads user suggested reading Gorman’s verses interspersed with those of


, of

Alan Ginsberg

: “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving naked hysters …”. In poetry there are also people with a great sense of humor. Actually, irony doesn’t matter:

The hill we climb

It has served its purpose: I have touched millions of Americans and become a symbol for optimism in a wounded country. Also, its author will henceforth be a different character than the one we will see grow in the coming years, perhaps as a writer or perhaps as a politician. And even poetry, so celebrated in recent months, acquires with Gorman’s success a renewed value of moral endurance, of strength in weakness. More or less like the girls involved in activists.

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