Press Release - Detail
For immediate release Friday, January 22, 2021
CONTACT: Roy L. Williams
Director of Public Relations
Birmingham Public Library
Phone: (205) 226-3746 cell (205) 572-1359

Bards & Brews Poets Inspired by Amanda Gorman’s Presidential Inauguration Poem

Birmingham, Ala. - In a poem delivered on the steps of the U.S. Capitol just two weeks after pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the building in an attempt to overthrow the election results, Amanda Gorman on January 20 challenged Americans to unify against those desiring to tear the nation apart.

"Somehow we've weathered and witnessed a nation that isn't broken, but simply unfinished,” said Gorman, 22, the youngest person ever to deliver the Presidential Inauguration Poem. "We learned that quiet isn't always peace, and the norms and notions of what 'just is' isn't always justice."

Poets who participate in the Birmingham Public Library’s Bards & Brews say the power of the spoken word was on full display as Gorman captivated the nation with her six-minute performance. Bards & Brews is a monthly spoken word poetry/craft beer event hosted by BPL. How Bards and Brews unifies the Birmingham arts community | The Birmingham Times

Click here for their reaction or read below:

Jahman Hill, 23, of Tuscaloosa and past winner of BPL Bards & Brews Poetry Slam

Amanda was absolutely incredible. Unapologetically Black, the brightest spot on the stage. The way she weaved words, every "we will rise" filling me with hope. This what a special moment in our history, where the nation all watched a Black woman speak life into the ashes and resurrect spirits across the country.

Lee Green, longtime Bards poet and member of BPL Bards & Brews Committee

"I was very inspired by Amanda Gorman. The Hill We Climb is hopeful, impacting and real. It is a call for unity, love, equity and greater understanding. These are not just words but a passionate call to action; a push for change."

"That is the power of poetry and spoken word. I feel that power, love and inspiration from my talented Bards & Brews friends every time. We all can be that light."

Caleb Calhoun, 38, founding member of Asheville (N.C.) Biscuit Head Poetry Slam
Asheville Humans and Poetry collective moves poetry slam online during coronavirus crisis | Ashvegas

Seeing a young, black, female poet stand bravely before not just those who desire to be allies, but also many who surely felt threatened by her very presence on stage, gave me such a strong sense of the power of poetry. For five minutes as she read I sat transfixed, tears streaming down my face.

Her words made me believe in the America she imagined for us, an America that is “not broken but unfinished.” And while she was only on stage for a few minutes, those few minutes will go on to inspire countless young poets in this country to find their voice.

Gorman’s powerful performance marks the second time in the last few months that spoken word gained worldwide acclaim. In September 2020, Brandon Leake became the first spoken word artist to win NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” competition.

Amanda Gorman's books are topping best seller lists and they haven't even been released yet -

In case you missed it, here are the words to the Biden-Harris inauguration poem written by Amanda Gorman, 22, the 2020 National Youth Poet Laureate
(Link to live performance courtesy of the Baltimore Sun from C-Span below)

“The Hill We Climb”

When day comes we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast, we’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace and the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice. And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it, 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.

So we lift our gazes not to what stands between us, but what stands before us. We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside. We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another, we seek harm to none and harmony for all.

Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: that even as we grieved, we grew, even as we hurt, we hoped, that even as we tired, we tried, that we’ll forever be tied together victorious, not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one should make them afraid. If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in in all of the bridges we’ve made.

That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it. That would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy, and this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can periodically be delayed, but it can never be permanently defeated.

In this truth, in this faith, we trust, for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us, this is the era of just redemption we feared in its inception we did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves, so while once we asked how can we possibly prevail over catastrophe, now we assert how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us.

We will not march back to what was but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free, we will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation, our blunders become their burden. But one thing is certain: if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left, with every breath from my bronze, pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one, we will rise from the golden hills of the West, we will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution, we will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states, we will rise from the sunbaked South, we will rebuild, reconcile, and recover in every known nook of our nation in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge battered and beautiful, when the day comes we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it, for there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.”

For additional information about the programs and services of the Birmingham Public Library, visit our website at and be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter @BPL. The mission of Birmingham Public Library is to provide the highest quality library experience to our community for life-long learning, cultural enrichment, and enjoyment. This system—with 18 locations and serving the community for over 130 years—is one of the largest library systems in
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