HOUSE OF LIGHT, by Amanda Gorman

We know a nation of states
Depends on the state of the arts,
A beacon which deepens our appreciation
of education, a task which is no better deserved
Than in serving the underserved.

Art is not a luxury, but a right,
That one might make way out of no way,
write one’s way out so they will see, one day,
that art is always mystical, but need not be a mystery.
It’s no nicety but instead a necessity.
Every child moved by art is a victory,
inspired to learn history but also to make it,
To shape it, to speak it,
Until the world glows with the sound.

I’ve found people sometimes say:
“In a world that is sick and dying,
What’s the use in trying to fund poetry, dance, music, art, song?”
I smile because they’re wrong.
art has been here all along,
It’s what makes a people strong,
Creativity will always belong
At the center of the throng,
At the center of civilization,
at the heart of a nation’s word
Because we need art just as much
As the blood needs a beat,
Just as much as flesh needs heat
Or the gut needs to eat.

We stand for expression;
We support access to the arts not because we could,
Not because we should,
But because we must,
If just for a moment to see a world that is a work of art.

We’ve known in our bones
That arts and education matter,
They make a ladder where we can lift as we climb.
I’m chiming in because tonight
Is about responsibility,
Our ability to create courageously,
to teach audaciously,
To learn graciously, maybe a little outrageously,
In the pages we pen,
The stages we transcend,
In the places we defend
And the rules we bend,
Each of us a never-ending ray of a new day,
Drawn into dawn by the arts and education
We stand upon.

In this craft, we observe how the burdens braved by humankind
Are also the moments that make us humans kind.

Tonight we fan the wick,
The path of a new work,
A new story well-lit,
For anyone brave enough to tell it.

Photo Credit: Stephanie Mitchell