Award winning South Pasadena Poet Laureate Ron Koertge recently penned a poem to accompany the stained glass window installation in the Bradbury meeting room of the South Pasadena Public Library. Koertge’s acquaintance with Bradbury, however, began some forty years ago: he and Bradbury frequented the same writer’s conferences and the famous author was a regular at South Pasadena Library events. Koertge and others often joined Bradbury afterwards for coffee. With “In Memoriam,” Koertge sets Bradbury’s desire to “live forever” through his work against the advice the author once offered at one of those sessions: “Mess around after you get your work done.”
“Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough.”
– Ray Bradbury, Zen and The Art of Writing
Ray Bradbury believed his writing was successful because he had a strong sense of metaphor. The best of his prose works are celebrated for their lyrical power and Bradbury would have been pleased to know that his love of language inspired Los Angeles poet Amanda Gorman, the youngest person to pen and deliver a presidential inaugural poem. Gorman read her 713 word poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at the presidential Inauguration on January 20, 2021. The 22 year old, who graduated from Harvard last year, says she discovered the power of poetic language when a third grade teacher read Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine to her class. Although she does not recall what metaphor sparked her interest, she remembers what it felt like: “it reverberated” inside her.
As Gorman explained, she has a speech impediment that makes it difficult to pronounce certain sounds and found the ability to shape and manipulate words in a way that moved others empowering. The Hill We Climb, her second poetry collection, and Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, a children’s book illustrated by Loren Long, will be available in September, 2021.
Watch “The Hill We Climb” or read more about Gorman by clicking below.