This year’s Super Bowl gave us hope with the inclusion of out artists and social justice poets, while also honoring healthcare workers and community activists.
Amanda Gorman became the first poet ever to perform at a Super Bowl when she recited her original poem, “Chorus of the Captains” in a recording that aired before Sunday’s game.
“Chorus of the Captains” is an ode to three “captains” — local organizers, health care workers, and volunteers — who took part in the game’s coin toss. They were James Martin, a former Marine and volunteer with the Wounded Warriors Project; Suzie Dorner, an ICU nurse; and Trimaine Davis, a retention coordinator for the VIP Scholars program at UCLA.
“Today we honor our three captains/For their actions and impact in/A time of uncertainty and need,” Gorman read. “They’ve taken the lead,/Exceeding all expectations and limitations,/Uplifting their communities and neighbors/As leaders, healers, and educators.”
Gorman earned praise last month after reciting her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at Joe Biden’s inauguration. The American Youth Poet Laureate was the youngest person ever to read at an inauguration, and her poem spoke to the need to overcome division and work toward a better, more just future for all.
Those themes echoed in Sunday’s recitation, with “Chorus of the Captains” focusing on the sacrifices the three “captains” had made, or overcome, in order to better serve their communities. “James has felt the wounds of warfare,/But this warrior still shares/His home with at-risk kids,” Gorman read of Martin, the former Marine. Davis “is an educator who works nonstop,/…So his students have all the tools/They need to succeed in life and school,” while Dorner, who lost both her grandmothers to Covid, “fights to save other lives in the ICU battlezones.”
You can watch Gorman recite her poem here.
The inclusion of Gorman’s poetry is part of a progressive curve that the Super Bowl has been trending toward in the past few years. In addition to more LGBTQ+-inclusive advertising, out artists like Lady Gaga have also performed at the venue.
This year, in the first-ever TikTok Tailgate, out star Miley Cyrus performed for 7,500 healthcare workers in a pre-game show featuring performers like Billy Idol — who performed “White Wedding” and “Night Crawling” with Cyrus — and Joan Jett, who joined Cyrus in a rendition of her classics, “Bad Reputation,” “Bad Karma,” and “I Hate Myself For Loving You.”
Back in 2015, Cyrus spoke during Jett’s induction to the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, comparing the former Runaways’ singer to “What superwoman really show be.”
Cyrus also performed covers of other retro classics like Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” and Dolly Parton’s “Jolene,” as well as Toni Basil’s “Mickey” — with lyrics changed to “Miley.”
While on stage, the singer delivered the following message to her fans: “This is my first show in about a year, and I couldn’t imagine a better way to do this than in Tampa, surrounded by healthcare heroes. We are so appreciative of you and your diligence.”