In an unprecedented and groundbreaking move, 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman, the youngest poet laureate in U.S. history who gained a momentous following after performing at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021, became the first poet to read her work before a Super Bowl kickoff on Feb. 7, 2021.
As The New York Times reported, Gorman recited her poem “Chorus of the Captains” via a pre-taped recording, which was subsequently aired before the game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers commenced on the ever-hallowed Super Bowl Sunday event. Before doing so, however, Gorman also took the time to honor three different Americans before her recitation — and, as became increasingly evident during her performance, went as far as to specifically craft her work around the lives and achievements of the three people she named with the intention to honor them.
So why did Gorman specifically choose these three individuals to act as her de facto muses? And what’s the story behind the reasons they were included? Read on after the jump to find out.
Amanda Gorman based her poem on the accomplishments of three 'honorary captains'
As media outlets like Rolling Stone reported after Amanda Gorman’s Super Bowl 2021 poetry performance, the three people the young poet chose to honor for her football game debut were, in fact, previously bequeathed the honorific of “honorary captains” before the game took place in February 2021. The honorees included James Martin, a former Marine, Suzie Donner, a nurse manager, and Trimaine Davis, a former high school basketball player who currently works as an educator. The NFL chose to highlight these three specifically due to their respective leadership efforts during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Per Rolling Stone, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell released a statement before the championship game with regards to why the football league chose to honor Donner, Davis, and Martin, in particular. “During this incredibly challenging time in our lives, Trimaine, Suzie, and James have exemplified the essence of leadership, each in their own way,” Goodell said. “We are grateful for their commitment and proud to share their stories and recognize them during this special moment on Super Bowl Sunday.”
These achievements included Donner’s work managing the city of Tampa’s coronavirus ICU unit at one of it’s major hospitals, Martin’s efforts in orchestrating livestream events related to local high school football games in his hometown of Pittsburgh, and Davis’ ongoing work in making sure his students in Los Angeles are able to attain internet access for virtual schooling.
Amanda Gorman reminded viewers of the pandemic's true heroes
In a statement preceding her Super Bowl poetry reading, Amanda Gorman herself also expressed exaltation for the continued community efforts of NFL honorary captain awardees Trimaine Davis, Suzie Donner, and James Martin. In a tweet the writer posted to her personal Twitter account, Gorman both commented on the NFL’s decision to include a poet in their entertainment lineup for Super Bowl LV, as well as their choice to highlight three Americans who rose to the many challenges the ongoing coronavirus presented throughout 2020.
“Poetry at the Super Bowl is a feat for art and our country, because it means we’re thinking imaginatively about human connection even when we feel siloed,” Gorman tweeted to her followers. “I’ll honor three heroes who exemplify the best of this effort. Here’s to them, to poetry, and to a #SuperBowl like no other.”
The poem Gorman read, titled “Chorus of the Captains,” was seemingly written for the Super Bowl game specifically, and mentioned Davis, Donner, and Martin by name in verses dedicated to their leadership and community efforts, per Rolling Stone. In the poem’s last two lines, Gorman made sure to highlight how their work within the communities will far outlast the ramifications and results of this year’s Super Bowl game day, stating, “For while we honor them today, It is them who every day honor us.”
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