Amanda Gorman’s poetry was beamed into the households of millions of people on Sunday, when she performed an original piece at Super Bowl LV. And though her presence was historic—Gorman described herself as “the first poet to perform” at the sporting event—her performance follows a long tradition of lyrical storytelling, as any halftime performer would tell you.
“Amanda Gorman is demystifying the genre and making it more accessible,” says Eunsong Kim, assistant professor of English at Northeastern, “but that love of language has never disappeared in our culture.”
Gorman, the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate, became a household name after her performance during Joe Biden’s inauguration. On Sunday, she recited an original poem before kickoff that honored three Americans for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By appearing at an event that isn’t usually associated with poetry, Kim says, Gorman is helping to divorce poetry from its traditional literary and academic gatekeepers, and making it available to a wider audience.