Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday via Getty Images
Thomas A. Ferrara/Newsday via Getty Images
Poetry can help us become more human. We saw it on display as 22-year-old inaugural poet Amanda Gorman read her stirring poem "The Hill We Climb" last week. It felt joyous and truthful, necessary and hopeful, and there was power in both her and her words.
Gorman's Inauguration Day poem no doubt helped inspire submissions to Morning Edition's most recent poetry callout. Days before she read those lines, Kwame Alexander, NPR's poet in residence, asked for poetry that starts with the words "I dream a world." That line comes from a poem by Langston Hughes and it inspired Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech.
NPR's poetry callout asked that we write our way out of the unprecedented events of the past year and into a space of possibility. It garnered more than 2,500 responses — including poems from first graders, college professors and grandparents across the country.
Alexander took lines from the submissions to create a community poem, "This Is Our Dream." Contributors are credited at the bottom. The poem also includes a line from Gorman's "The Hill We Climb," with permission from the author.
This Is Our Dream
I dream a world that sounds like a gentle "good morning,"
like "sleep tight" at the end of the day,
like Ella scatting,
a world filled with a universal song.
A hallelujah of joyous rejoicing, in this moment's gift of life.
I dream a world in color,
Where nature's artist takes the lead.
Clear, blue oceans and vibrant reefs,
and all creatures thrive with what they need.
Where peace floats from every direction.
Where it's not too late to change the people who hate.
Where race and color are not what the scales weigh.
Where the root of all evil is pulled up,
and the rain pours down until the ground swells with fertile soil.
Where potential is the currency of the day,
and you can be able to see what's next
without being scared.
I dream of that world
The one that lifts the silenced souls from shackles.
Where vision cannot be smothered beneath my eyes beyond my reach
Where what lies waiting aches to teach.
I dream a world where a bridge is arching over troubled waters, built on a foundation of truth.
Where children grow up learning only one kind of division, the long kind.
a world where Sharing kindness is commonplace;
Where deeds are done with heart and zest
Where doing right should be the quest
I Dream A World
Where every day is Earth Day
and pollution is not a thing.
Where we take care of the ocean and the world.
Where masks are only for the ball
A new beginning for us all.
Where we can see every person smile.
Where the coronavirus goes away so we can go to school.
Where people can hug their family and friends whenever they want
Where all have the luxury simply to sit and build a puzzle.
I dream of seeing foxes walking in a field. I would like to walk with them.
That is my wish.
I dream a world where native fish fly free,
Unfettered, many miles to reach the sea.
And those whose sacred presence
On our shores predates
The ships galore that brought
Conquerors, colonists, and slaves in chains.
Where the monarch butterflies are the only concern we have about migration.
I hunger for that world!
a safe world
for children whose skin is darker than mine.
A beautiful sunrise after the night,
Equity, kindness, color and light.
For my daughter's daughters; for my son's sons.
I dream of a world
Where the problems are the problem, not the people debating them.
Where we lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms
Where we know each other's joys and sorrows
All these days and all the 'morrows
Where The News Brings A Smile
I dream a world straight; crooked paths are only for walking
A world drunk with self-esteem, fearless and ready
A world where you hold onto your dreams, and I'll hold the door
Pass right through, 'cause the world is yours
I dream a world where that world is not a dream,
but awake, vigilant
Community gardens on every corner
No more social media advertisements for body armor
People with mental health issues, accepted as whole
A mosaic of humans not separated by color, opinion, belief
empty and unlocked, doors swung open,
guards long since gone home.
Where facts matter.
A world as simple as a poem
Written in pencil, full of mistakes and erasures
On the relentless path to its honest truth.
Where, as soldiers of democracy nurturing us,
teachers are publicly thanked for their service.
I dream of a world transparent.
Walls and floors, built of some durable crystalline material.
Where we know which student is really watching a TikTok video
when we leave the room for a moment.
I dream a world
Where there is quiet
Enough to hear
The young care for the old,
And the earth is cared for by all.
Where nations' boundaries blur
by a bridge of millions of hands,
reaching across to embrace in oneness.
Where people are as free
as the poet's meter.
And inclusion is real
Not mandated by law, but embraced with zeal
Where I can be black and woman, and be safe
I dream a world where white folks see
All non-white folks in the land of the free
As true heirs to the founders' liberty
From oppression and powerful tyranny;
I dream the world, king dreamed for me
That the paved gold that America promises prospers
Where the playing field is level, the same,
for anyone willing and able.
where we anchor to hope and all it brings
Do you not see it is time to finish what has begun?
A world that we want to live in.
Such is a world I dream of!
This community poem was created using submissions by:
Cari DiTullio, Middleton, Wisc.
Stephen Corrado, Tarpon Springs, Fla.
Leslee Wagner, Swarthmore, Pa.
Kundai Chikowero, Goleta, Calif.
Laurie Fitzgibbons,, Walpole, Mass.
Kathleen O'Hara, Davenport, Iowa
Pittershawn Palmer, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Tasha Souza, Boise, Idaho
Lillith Sullivan, Pollock Pines, Calif.
Sophia Keller, Seattle
Laurie Abildso, Morgantown, W.V.
William Waldron, East Chatham, N.Y.
Johnny McConnell, Tuscon, Ariz.
Kay Augustine, Milwaukee, Wis.
Betty Evans, Springfield, Mo.
Karen Quandt, Edgewood, Wash.
Janet Lassiter, McKinney, Texas
Eric Booth, High Falls, N.Y.
Susan Wilder, Davis, N.C.
Heath Miller, Muncy, Pa.
Curtis Linderman, Seattle
Chris Tiffany, Solvang, Calif.
Jennifer Thompson, Chelsea, Mich.
Andrea Malaguti, Amherst, Mass.
AlethaRodgers, Park Hill, Ok.
Mikel Cole, Houston
Robert Detullio, Adairsville, Ga.
Sandra Graham, Walla Walla, Wash.
Michelle Smith, Twinsburg, Ohio
Evelyn Sebik, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Laura Slaathaug, Grand Forks, N.D.
Tom Cunningham, Austin, Texas
Leonard Santarsiero, Glastonbury, Ct.
Mia Sasaki, Lincoln, Calif.
Jeanne DeJong, Brevard, N.C.
Jaden Silverman, New York
Lynn Austin, Charleston, S.C.
Arif Valji, Des Moines, Iowa
Daniel Fisher, Birmingham, Mich.
Hank Ebert, Meridian, Idaho
Nina Amabile, Boulder, Colo.
David Stern, Hamden, Ct.
Karl Gunderson, Fargo, N.D.
Chris Cotton, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Michele Blackwell, San Francisco
Jeanne Julian, South Portland, Maine
Jeevika Verma and Reena Advani produced and edited the audio story. Casey Noenickx produced and Heidi Glenn edited the Web version.