In January, 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman stole the show at the inauguration of President Joe Biden when she read “The Hill We Climb,” a rousing poem that launched her from literary renown to national superstardom. Tonight, she became the first poet ever to appear at the Super Bowl, reading a new poem written for the occasion titled “Chorus of the Captains.”
Gorman wrote “Chorus of the Captains” to celebrate the three honorary captains selected for the coin toss at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium. Those captains include Los Angeles teacher Trimaine Davis, Tampa nurse manager Suzie Dorner, and Pittsburgh Marine veteran James Martin, who honored their communities in unique ways during the COVID-19 pandemic. Davis worked tirelessly to ensure device and Internet access for his students and their families, while also hosting tech workshops to help e-learners understand how to use their new devices. Dorner, who lost two grandparents to COVID-19, is the COVID ICU nurse manager at Tampa General Hospital.
The NFL contacted Gorman to propose a collaboration in November, when they were working to create a ceremony that would reflect the nation’s prodigious challenges. Matt Shapiro, the NFL’s vice president, said in a statement, “We knew that in order to honor them properly — and all of those across the country that they represent — we needed the right words that would match the power of that moment, and there’s no one more perfectly suited to bring those words to the world than Amanda Gorman.”
In a tweet prior to the event, Gorman said, “Poetry at the Super Bowl is a feat for art & our country, because it means we’re thinking imaginatively about human connection even when we feel siloed. I’ll honor 3 heroes who exemplify the best of this effort. Here’s to them, to poetry, & to a #SuperBowl like no other.” She went on to say, “I also can’t reiterate how exciting it is for me that others are excited to see poetry at a football game. What a time to be alive.”
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Read the full text of “Chorus of the Captains” below:
“Today, we honor our three captains for their actions and impact in a time of uncertainty and need.
They’ve taken the lead, exceeding all expectations and limitations, uplifiting their communities and neighbors as leaders, healers and educators.
James has felt the wounds of warfare, but this warrior still shares his home with at-risk kids. During COVID, he’s even lent a hand livestreaming football for family and fans.
Termaine is an educator who works nonstop, providing his community with hotspots, laptops and tech workshops so his students have all the tools they need to succeed in life and in school.
Suzie is the ICU nurse manager at a Tampa hospital. Her chronicles prove that even in tragedy, hope is possible. She lost her grandmothers to the pandemic and fights to save other lives in the ICU battle zone, defining the frontline heroes, risking their lives for our own.
Let us walk with these warriors, charge on with these champions and carry forth the call of our captains. We celebrate them by acting with courage and compassion by doing what is right and just, for while we honor them today, it is they who every day honor us.”
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