It was slightly after the noon-hour on a cold January day just two weeks ago that most of us came to know Amanda Gorman for the first time. Though already an accomplished writer and poet at the young age of 22, she wasn’t yet a household name. That is, until she took the inaugural podium and began to tell us her story.
Despite speech-language difficulties and sensory processing disorder, Amanda Gorman, the nation’s first Youth Poet Laureate and Harvard graduate, captured our ears, filled our hearts, and lifted our hopes in delivering with flawless execution to the world “The Hill We Climb.”
Storytelling takes many forms, in writing, film, dance and, yes, in the poetry of a “skinny Black girl, descended from slaves & raised by a single mother” who can dream of being president one day, “only to find herself reciting for one.”
Storytelling takes many forms, and at Steven James we celebrate all of the unique voices and perspectives we encounter, that we bring to life through our work, and that serve as teachable moments in our own craft and in our lives. Amanda Gorman’s poem, and perhaps more importantly, her speaking to us, served as a reminder that, as she noted, “For there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it; if only we're brave enough to be it."
Being brave, challenging the status quo, stripping away everything but the raw authenticity of the world in which we live, operate, do business is what storytelling is about. It’s about laying bare our truth in all its forms from discomfort to beauty. And no matter what we find there is always something to appreciate, to learn, to grow, and to share with those who come after us for their benefit and that of our society.
Amanda Gorman talks of her craft this way: “It’s made me the performer that I am and the storyteller that I strive to be.” To tell any story well, let alone one in front of a watching world, is an enormous task. In certain ways, at Steven James we can relate to the daunting task Amanda Gorman surely faced in crafting her work, preparing its delivery, and speaking her truth. There is a certain translation to how we approach our work. We say that your story is our story because we share in its telling with you, and we know that the process to give life to your story is often so soul-searching and deep-reaching.
Though we all come from different backgrounds, privileges, and for many, disadvantages, we can all recognize a new brand of storytelling has taken grip, the power of your authentic voice.
And if the voice of a “skinny Black girl, descended from slaves & raised by a single mother” who can dream of being president one day, “only to find herself reciting for one” isn’t storytelling at its finest, we’re really not sure what is.