Morgan State University President David Wilson on Wednesday made inaugural poet Amanda Gorman an offer that he hopes she can’t refuse — a job at the prestigious historically Black educational institution he helms.
“Ms. Gorman, I need you as our Poet-in-Residence at the National Treasure, @MorganStateU,” Wilson tweeted shortly after Gorman’s acclaimed performance of her original poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
“Outstanding!!!!! Consider this a job offer!”
Wilson said later in a telephone interview that the offer, though perhaps spontaneous, is 100 percent genuine.
“I was glued to the TV as I was watching her,” Wilson said.
“I’m very serious about opening an opportunity for her to come here as a poet in residence. We have all kinds of authors on campus, and we think that being at Morgan for a year would give her an even deeper and wider perspective on the issues she is addressing. If she would accept this offer, I would move on it in a heartbeat.
“I will be watching my emails.”
Gorman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. But chances are that Wilson’s offer won’t be the only opportunity coming the way of the petite 22-year-old Los Angeles native who recited Wednesday in a daffodil-colored coat and strawberry-colored headband.
She is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. Her fluid, emotional recital received the kind of early praise that often accompanies a career breakthrough.
“Historic and showstopping,” raved Entertainment Tonight.
“Stunning,” said CNN.
The nearly six-minute free verse poem contained references to the oratory of the The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and former U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
It echoed the rhythms of spoken word rap performances and paid homage to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster musical, “Hamilton.” It built narrative power by incorporating such traditional poetic devices as alliteration, repetition, and internal rhymes.
But it was Gorman’s words that captivated listeners. At one point, she alluded to the Jan. 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. Five people died during the insurrection.
“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,” Gorman said,
“Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
“And this effort very nearly succeeded.
“But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
“It can never be permanently defeated.”
Some members of the audience gasped. Recordings of the recital capture muted cheers as she continued.
“There is always light,” she said, “if only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”
As Wilson listened to Gorman recite, he couldn’t help thinking how much she reminded him of his students.
“She was coming from the same place as many of them in terms of her concern for social justice and equal opportunity,” he said. “If she were to come to Morgan, I think she would connect with them in a very special way.”