Week Three: Amanda Gorman’s Call Us What We Carry Read-a-Long

For this 3rd week, we read the Atonement section.

Here are a few questions to get us started:

1. What was your favorite poem in this section?

2. Erasure poems modify current text to create something new or highlight a particular theme. What impact does this form have on these poems?

3. Gorman offers a great deal of background to these found poems in footnotes and elsewhere, how did or did it not affect your reading of the poems?

I’ll be monitoring the comments and replying throughout the weekend. Can’t wait to see what everyone thinks.


  1. I didn’t like the poems in this section. Usually when I don’t like something, I shut up and wait to see if I’m wrong. In this case, though, it felt like cowardice. So I’ll say that I don’t like erasure poems and don’t tend to like visual poems or poems with gimmicks. (And yes, I know this is hypocritical since I published a volume of poems in the shape of postcards.)

    • I found these poems a bit overdone for me. I really wanted less of them. I thought they lost their effectiveness the more of them I read.

      Ha, hypocritical! Aren’t we all at times.

  2. I wouldn’t say I have a favorite poem in this section. The poems in this section, while they had some poignant lines, felt more rambling and disjointed to me. I did like that she included background information on the poems. That gave them at least some context. I thought it was interesting how you’d think a poem was about covid, and then it was about the Spanish flu. Those parallels where interesting. I also thought “Gated” made an interesting point, about the white woman who was angry about being asked to wait for the next elevator due to social distancing: “Why it’s so perturbing for privileged groups/to follow restrictions of place & personhood./Doing so means for once wearing the chains/their power has shackled on the rest of us.” Also, the form/shape of “DC PUTSCH” worked better than the whale shape in one of the previous poems. I can’t say I’m a fan of erasure poems, but I think what she did with them was creative and powerful overall.

    • I really liked “Gated” and those lines in particular. The shape poems are hit and miss for me. Erasure poems can be very creative and intriguing, but I also felt like some in this section could have been left out. They were a bit of overkill on the subject.

      • I agree about the overkill, but especially with the diary ones. Those went on for too long. But it was a creative idea and I understood the points she was trying to make.

        I do like that she’s experimenting with shape/form. It’ll be interesting to see how she evolves as a poet.

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