Okay, y’all, new job stress is real, and that stress has absolutely sucked all the energy and time out of me to read books, but I’m back!
And what a book to read to reinvigorate myself! Like a lot of people, I absolutely fell in love with Gorman’s skill and voice when she recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration. In her first collection of poems Call Us What We Carry, Gorman demonstrates that her first presentation to the world was not a fluke. She’s the real deal. I’m usually not one to mark up my books or put any post-its in books, but I couldn’t help myself. I needed something to be able to go back to my favorite poems and lines.
This collection of poems is clearly a direct response to what we have all experienced over the last two years. Gorman touches on the Australia wildfires, the pandemic, the insurrection, and the collective trauma and grief that stems living in the world we live in. There’s a maturity to Gorman’s approach to grief. She never shies away from the experience; she embraces grief as a necessary part of life. However, Gorman never lets the grief overtake her. There are glimmers and shimmers of hope in every poem.
My favorite section of Call Us What We Carry was the collection of poems inspired by American experiences of the Spanish Flu in the early 20th Century which coincided with race riots through the country. Gorman effortlessly highlights that our current experience is not entirely unprecedented. Many of her poems in the section are pulled and inspired by people’s first hand accounts. Gorman also includes historical context as part of her poetry and in a notes section in the back of the book. I was surprised by how parallel our experiences are to those of Americans living through the Spanish Flu, World War I, and a changing racial and political landscape.
My favorite poems: “Fugue”, “Cut”, “Good Grief”, “Fury and Faith” (which you can watch Gorman perform here), and “Arborescent III, or Elpis”