What a time to be alive! America has successfully inaugurated her 46th president, and we’ve seen the first Black and Southeast Asian women sworn in as Vice-President. All of that is great and I saw history being made before my eyes, but that’s not what held my attention.
What grabbed my attention was the inaugural poet, Amanda Gorman, reading and reciting her poem “The Hill We Climb.” This poem perfectly captured the division and problems of America while at the same time speaking of the America that could be. Following her performance, I immediately went to social media to follow her on Instagram and Twitter. Her story is amazing and I suggest you Google her and get familiar.
Let’s talk about what happened next. Amanda’s followers on Instagram ballooned from 175K to 2 million, her phone received so many updates she couldn’t post and could only update via her Instagram story, the President of Morgan State University took to Twitter to offer Gorman a job, and both of Amanda’s books have surged to the top of best seller lists. Amanda Gorman’s career was already on an upward trajectory(first National Youth Poet Laureate and a Harvard graduate), but everything literally blew up overnight.
NOTE: In the weeks following Amanda’s performance, she has continued to stack her wins. She signed to a modeling agency and she will be performing her spoken word at the Super Bowl!
As a fellow poet and spoken word artist, this encouraged me. Sometimes I feel as if my craft and gift of poetry has a ceiling, particularly as a faith based poet. Not all of my pieces proselytize, but my faith is very present in my poetry. I’ve been dismayed because some of the biggest Christian poets seemed to have abandoned the space to go on to other things. Sure, once a year they gather to do a poetry tour, but after that they go back to their other spaces. Some are speaking and preaching, others are on YouTube, and others have become music artists. Faith based poetry doesn’t seem to be paying the bills. I’ve felt like there wasn’t a space for my gift to thrive.
This last year up until Amanda Gorman’s performance have shown me how wrong I was. Brandon Leake was the first spoken word artist to compete on America’s Got Talent. He didn’t just compete, but he went on to win the competition and became the first spoken word artist to do so. Poetry and spoken word won that man $1 million. Amanda Gorman’s performance at the Inauguration changed her life.
What am I saying? I’m saying that your gift makes room for you. No matter how off the beaten path or how unusual, there is room for you. Your gift, once you develop and polish it, will take you places you never imagined. Year after year I’m seeing poetry ascend to new heights, crushing whatever ceilings I had concocted.
I’ve heard people say to pursue your passion, pursue the opportunity, and to pursue your gift. With all the things we can chase, I would say to focus on the gift, because it was given to you by the Gift Giver. Something was deposited in you that only you can do and comes to you easier than other things. Keep honing your craft and adding to your skill, it literally takes one “yes” or opportunity to change your life. Keep working so you’ll be ready when it comes. Your gift is making room for you in places you’ve never dreamed of entering.
"A man's gift makes room for him and brings him before the great."-Provers 18:16(ESV)