call-us-what-we-carry-by-amanda-gorman-review
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Call Us What We Carry is a powerful collection of poems that discuss identity, grief and nature in times of uncertainty. Split up into seven chapters, the book begins with ‘Requiem Notes’, a collection of works centred around the pandemic. ‘No Power Like Home’ and ‘At First’ (playfully presented like a chain of text messages on iPhone) are poignant pieces that recall the uncertain emotions of lockdown. Gorman’s youth and hopeful spirit is echoed in ‘School’s Out’, where she writes: ‘There is power in being robbed / & still choosing to dance’.

Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman

Throughout the book, Gorman delicately delivers the sentiment, struggles and grief faced in a post-pandemic and racially unjust society. Her descriptions of struggle are emotive and tender and her words are, at times, self-aware. Gorman often examines language, questioning the meaning of certain words, their uses and her relation to them. She also questions grammar, exploring how we carry language, and are shaped by our understanding of words. In ‘Memorial’, she writes: ‘But why alliteration? / Why the pulsing percussion, the string of syllables? / It is the poet who pounds the past back into you.’

Amanda Gorman attending the Met Gala, 2021

Theo Wargo / Getty Images

As the book progresses, themes turn to self-reflection and self-progression. Throughout the chapters – titled ‘What a Piece of Wreck Man is’, ‘Memoria’ and ‘Fury & Faith’ – Gorman ultimately explores one thing: survival. ‘Cut’ is a self-reflective piece highlighting Gorman’s refuge in creativity: ‘Some days, we just need a place / Where we can bleed in peace. / Our only word for this is/ Poem’.

Ending with ‘The Hill We Climb’, the piece that catapulted her into superstardom, Amanda Gorman’s debut proves that she is poetry’s brightest young thing.