"One of the threads I think is most resonant in my life is the thread of seeing writing as an instrument for change. So not just writing to write something, but writing to make something right." –Poet and activist Amanda Gorman, 1440 Life Inside Out podcast
In January 2020, just before the pandemic shifted our lives in ways that no one could predict, award-winning television journalist and human rights activist Peggy Callahan interviewed Los Angeles native Amanda Gorman for the first episode of 1440 Life Inside Out – a special podcast series that explores the moments we all face in life when we're not sure whether we are breaking through or breaking down.
Much of the world knows Amanda – a celebrated writer, poet and activist – from her moving delivery of The Hill We Climb during the 2021 presidential inauguration, when she became the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. She celebrates another milestone less than three weeks later: The first poet to ever perform at a Super Bowl.
At the time of her interview with 1440 though, Amanda – who named the first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017 – was on winter break during her final year at Harvard University, preparing for her upcoming graduation, working to meet her upcoming book deadlines, and leading the nonprofit One Pen One Page organization she founded in 2016 to elevate the voices and stories of young people.
On 1440 Life Inside Out: Episode 1, Amanda shares her inspirations, the impact and opportunity of her childhood speech impediment, life's difficult lessons, and more, as she embodies the 1440 vision of creating hope for living well for the greater good of humanity.
She also visited the 1,200-year-old Mother Tree at the 1440 Multiversity campus in Scotts Valley, California, where she recited an excerpt from her poem titled What If? that she wrote for the DIALOGUE 2019 conference at Harvard Business School.
The poem I'm about to read is called What If? and I wrote it when I was going to be participating in a conference that Harvard was hosting called DIALOGUE. And I was very interested in what it means to have conversations with other people, to gather with other people and to really spread ideas in a holistic manner. And I thought it might be timely in thinking about 1440 because I feel like it is such a gathering place where ideas and people can all come together.
What if our world's leaders, innovators and thinkers
didn't speak about change in monologues?
What if we spoke and hoped through dialogue?
While dialogue is not the chorus speaking perfectly as one
dialogue is that daring cacophony.
The diverse call to action. It is complex and sometimes chaotic conversation
this courageous confrontation it is the collective compassion for the common good.
It is meeting with meaning, participation with purpose, speech in service of others here by dialogue.
We do not mean it in the abstract. We mean it's in the act.
It is a verb in every sense of the word.
It is participating, communicating, activating because we know something has to be done.
And fast. And though it might take years change is worth a lifetime. Push. By pull back. By fourth. We might not get the correct answers but we get closer to asking the right questions.
What if our world's leaders, businesses, innovators, thinkers gathered together.
What if we could look in each other's eyes not for press or publicity but for progress.
Then we the assembled would act with these words at our prow.
If past is written in prologue our progress will be spoken in dialogue as verb, vocation. a vow.
To not only ask what if? but also.
Stay tuned for upcoming episodes of 1440 Life Inside Out hosted by Peggy Callahan, featuring: