Jennifer Horne

Jennifer Horne

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Greetings! I’m a writer, editor, and teacher, and I enjoy connecting with readers and other writers. In November 2017 I was commissioned Alabama Poet Laureate, for a four-year term. My latest book is a poetry chapbook, "Borrowed Light," and my current writing project is a biography of the writer Sara Mayfield. You can find out more about me and my work here, as well as read the posts I write occasionally, as the spirit moves me. I call this blog "A Map of the World" because I think that, as writers, we each map the world through our own lives and imaginations. Welcome to my particular map! To get in touch, you can email me at forjenhorne@gmail.com, find me on Facebook, or follow me on Instagram at eyewitnesspoet. I'm also on Twitter as @ALPoetLaureate.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

A poem for the Alabama high school graduating class of 2020:

It's long been a tradition for poet laureates to write an "occasional poem" to mark specific occasions or moments in time. In these unusual times, I've been moved to write an occasional poem for the Alabama high school graduates of 2020, titled "Beyond the Numbers." The text and video are below; feel free to share.


Beyond the Numbers
            —for the Alabama high school graduating class of 2020


You are from 67 counties
            in a state of 5 million people
                        a quarter (or so) of whom are under 18.
You are 50,000 in number,
            in a state of 52,000-plus square miles,
                        more than a square mile for each of you!
You are from Mobile, Montgomery, Madison, and maybe even McMullen,
            from Birmingham, Bessemer, and Brilliant,
                        Tuscaloosa, Trussville, Tuscumbia, Tuskegee, and Twin,
                                    Alabaster, Auburn, and Allgood.

You’re told you are the future, the promise, the hope—
            and you are, but you are also
                        sad, tired, frustrated, and discouraged—at least sometimes.
You see so many numbers in the news these days:
            gatherings of 10 or more, 50% capacity,
                        not to mention the number of infections, the almost 500 deaths.


So what’s beyond today? What’s beyond the numbers?
            You are. Unique. A once-in-a-worldtime life.
                        A life that can be inventive, courageous, kind, outrageous,
                                    bring joy, humor, hope,
                                                and open up to the unknown.
This one life. Yours.
            That no numbers can define.
                        Congratulations!
                                    Now, begin.


                                                                                                            By Jennifer Horne
Alabama Poet Laureate

2 comments:

  1. "A once-in-a-worldtime life" -- I love that phrase.

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  2. Oh, thank you! I kinda like it, too. :) We have been watching the new "Cosmos" and I think it inspired me.

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