Welcome to 2022! Today at Podium, we’re adding a new series for the new year. About once a month, we will publish “Three Questions with…” In these interviews, I’ll ask remarkable people from different professions, talents and corners of the world to answer three unique questions.
I had the honor of reading it over the summer, while I was recovering from surgery. When I finished the book, I wrote to my friend Amanda that it was “so alive you want to hold it and protect it, to read it all at once and then immediately read it again.” I highly recommended for all Podium readers.
Please enjoy Amanda’s enlightening answers — and leave a comment below about who you’d like us to feature next month and what questions you would ask them.
Question 1: A lot of people, perhaps because of movies or other artistic representations of writers, imagine that poets like you are in a constant state of inspiration, scribbling verses on moving trains or while walking through the woods. But I'd love to hear what the process is really like for you. I know you enjoy a cup of tea when you write. Do you have other rituals, a special place you go or any other physical conditions you consider important to your work?
Amanda Gorman: The word "inspire" originates from the Latin word for "breathe.” What this means to me as a writer is that my craft is less so about spontaneous bursts of inspiration (which actually are very difficult and rare to experience), but making sure I'm making myself open and willing for the world to breathe musings into me.
So I typically start my writing day by reading. I'll return to my favorite books or new ones as long-standing sources of knowledge and poetics. From there I may create a "word cloud" to get started and put my poems up on the wall to look at them visually.
If I'm still struggling, I try to do things that aren't necessarily writing but that build a space where I feel ready to write — going for long walks, listening to soundtracks. I'm very fortunate that I get to make a safe environment that gets me to create.
Question 2: You're an incredible visual artist as well. Your sense of style and the clothes you wear are always telling a story, sending us a message. How did you become interested in fashion and what does it mean to you?
Amanda Gorman: For me, fashion is another avenue of expressing myself, another language. Just like a pen, it enables me to make a statement. Growing up as an activist in a very socially aware household, I often thought about what it meant for Civil Rights movement activists to walk in their "Sunday Best," or how suffragists wore white. Fashion, how we show up in a space, is an immense source of power and communication.
Question 3: You have to love reading to be a great writer. What is a book that you read last year that you really loved?
Amanda Gorman: I'm always reading and rereading books. Newer books that I've enjoyed are Four Hundred Souls, edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blain, What Happened To You by Oprah Winfrey. I’m also very privileged to be reading an advanced copy of Ocean Vuong’s Time Is a Mother, which I have been loving so far.