Amanda Gorman was born in 1998 in Los Angeles. Along with her two siblings, she was raised by a single mother who was a teacher. As a child she had a speech impediment. In an interview with Colleen Walsh in the Harvard Gazette in 2018 she said “I always saw my speech impediment as a strength because since I was experiencing these obstacles in terms of my auditory and vocal skills, I became really good at reading and writing.” She studied sociology at Harvard and in 2017 she was named as the National Youth Poet Laureate. Jill Biden, Joe Biden’s wife, suggested that she should read a poem at her husband’s Presidential inauguration on January 20th. Amanda Gorman has stated that she wants to run for President in 2036. Her reading was sensational – emotional, expressive and enthusiastic. “Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed / a nation that isn’t broken / but simply unfinished / We, the successors of a country and a time / where a skinny black girl / descended from slaves and raised by a single mother / can dream of becoming President / only to find herself reciting for one.” It’s literally unbelievable that someone who had problems with speaking as a child could have given such a performance.
In July, Michael Holding, who used to bowl very fast for the West Indies made an incredible speech about the impact and the causes of racism. It was very surprising to see such a coherent, articulate and emotional speech about societal problems on a sports broadcast.
This morning, not as importantly but equally astonishingly, Nasser Hussein, who used to be the England cricket captain gave a fantastic five minute speech about the dangers of playing spin bowling. His argument that playing straight doesn’t mean trying to hit the ball towards the opposite wicket but rather back in the direction from which the ball came was so well made, I watched it twice. He was very articulate, there was barely a pause for breath and although it was probably briefly rehearsed, it was spoken very naturally.
I watched “The King’s Speech” last week and really enjoyed it. Although the details of the story about George VI’s stammer were changed to make a coherent story, the basic premise of his inability to speak coherently, caused by shaming as a child, were true.
I really enjoyed writing about “Strawberry Fields Forever” last week and one of the great things about the lyrics is that it beautifully conveys the feeling of muddle, confusion and an inability to properly describe what John Lennon is truly feeling. “No one I think is in my tree. I mean it must be high or low. That is you can’t, you know, tune in, but it’s all right. That is I think it’s not too bad” and “Always, no, sometimes think it’s me. But you know I know when it’s a dream. I think a “no”, I mean, a “yes”, but it’s all wrong. That is I think I disagree.”
I’m someone who failed their Spoken English ‘O’ level and spent 40 years teaching so what do I know?
Green On Red were part of the Paisley Underground scene in San Francisco in the early 1980s along with The Dream Syndicate, The Long Ryders, Three O’Clock, The Bangles, Rain Parade and Thin White Rope. The distinctive sound on “Gravity Talks” is Chris Cacavas’ organ. Their first two albums, “Green On Red” and “Gravity Talks” were issued before the red hot lead guitarist, Chuck Prophet, joined the band, although he can be seen on the second YouTube video. He said that when he first saw Green On Red his “first impression was that they looked like guys who should be operating rides as a carnival. It was chaotic as hell”
My favourite song on the album is “Cheap Wine” which accurately conveys the feelings of a drunken stupor brought on by living in a terrible world. “I’m just a man who doesn’t know right from wrong who can tell. I’m just a man who cannot see justice so easily as you.”
There are many ways to articulate feelings. Some people are able to articulate by means of the spoken word, others can express their feelings in art. Gravity talks.