BookMarks- review of a ‘book’ of poetry: The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman - By Kathy Ellis

amanda gorman book review bookmarks kathy ellis poetry review the hill we climb Nov 15, 2021


This month we welcome guest reviewer Kathy Ellis and we feature our first review of a ‘book’ of poetry: The Hill We Climb by Amanda Gorman. Ms. Gorman wrote and read this poem for the inauguration of President Biden. It is available as a slim volume in several versions (hardboard and paperback). Ms. Gorman also wrote Call Us What We Carry: Poems. In this review Kathy highlights some of the intercultural passages in the poem. (Craig Storti)


Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb”

Applying the Intercultural Lens

Reviewed By Kathy Ellis

Atlanta, Georgia


What a day it was. What an image to remember. Who is this poet? Ah, the power of poetry…


On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman, the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration, revealed poignant messages in “The Hill We Climb”. Ms. Gorman became a force of light and leadership for our nation that day, captivating listeners by her grace and dignity. She is also an “intercultural” activist for racial justice, environmental awareness, and gender equality. Ms. Gorman took my breath away.


Let’s apply the intercultural lens to the 110-line poem. I have kept the format of Ms. Gorman’s lines.


We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace, 

And the norms and notions of what “just is”

                  Isn’t always justice.


Silence speaks many languages. We learn someone… We learn the meaning of their silence… However, in the case of injustice, silence condones the action. As interculturalists, our mission is to educate. We speak out. We act. 


Because we know to put

Our future first, we must first

Put our differences aside.


How can we build bridges while valuing differences? We know that collaboration, unity, and togetherness are keys of working towards common goals, of knowing the questions to ask and what we need to do. As Dr. Nehrwr Abdul-Wahid emphasized and said simply, to see the Other, we need to get past the stereotypes and fears to see the humanity.


Because we know our inaction and inertia

Will be the inheritance for the next 



I interpret these lines as reckoning with our nation’s past, recognizing our inherent biases. We all have them. The poet tells us to do the internal work. Sometimes, I am in complete awe of the kaleidoscope of diversity that we have in the United States and around the world.


We will raise this wounded world into

  A wondrous one.


How beautiful is this line? As interculturalists, we heal and advance this wounded world, and Ms. Gorman put her words to our ideals. The nation experienced the magical crossroads of timing and healing on that sunny winter day in January. Amanda Gorman was in the right place and time, declaring the right words in the right way for the right reasons. She wore a cloak of a promising sun topped by a red crown of hope.


The poet applied the tools of alliteration and internal rhyme, combining her Harvard education with the depth of musicality of the black language tradition to represent every American voice. In a sense, we listen to our calling while healing and transforming ourselves and communities. Poetry reflects voices of the heart and soul, less on the mind. The simple nature of “Hill We Climb” marvels the complexities of the human condition.


Kathy Ellis has worked as an educator, trainer, and coach in international environments all her career life of over 40 years, weaving in and out of USA orientations for corporate and ESL in the workplace. Kathy is a Qualified Administrator (QA) for the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). Kathy is active with SIETAR Atlanta. Kathy is an awarded poet who has always had poetry dancing in her head. She finally found her poetry pen seven years ago to publish two books and at various venues. Kathy’s third book, to be on the shelves in 2022, is an illustrated adventure story on healing and seeking social justice. 

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