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Zaire Krieger Translates Amanda Gorman: "Because I'm a Black Woman Good at What You Do"

Zaire Krieger Translates Amanda Gorman: “Because I’m a Black Woman Good at What You Do”

Young Gorman rose to fame overnight when she recited the poem “The Hill We Climb” at US President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January.

At first, Meulenhof publishers asked writer and poet Marek Lucas Reinfeldt to translate the famous poem. This choice drew criticism: by choosing a young, but well-established white writer, the publisher missed the opportunity to ask a person of color from the world of spoken words, some felt. Including Krieger: “How salty would it be at a level 1 to the Dead Sea when I say a dozen colorful spoken word artists (Babs Gons, Lisette Ma Neza, etc.) could have done better?” Twitter.

“To me, it felt like an entire scene wasn’t watched,” Krieger says of the criticism now. Pay attention to the spoken word in the Netherlands (Where Krieger Lives, Editor) After Gormann’s nomination, “But the biggest job in the Netherlands has been with spoken word artists. I thought I should make my voice heard.”

Rijneveld eventually pulled out and Meulenhoff admitted he had “missed a huge opportunity”. They teamed up with publisher Wild Haren to find a new translator and ended up with Dutch-Suriname Krieger. In 2019, she received an award as “one of the most inspiring word artists of the moment”. Her translations of “The Hill We Climb” and another collection of Gorman’s poems will be published in September.


For Krieger, Gorman is “a pioneer who proclaims a very unique voice, as a black woman in a generation that has suffered many setbacks.” Work touches her personally. “The first time I heard The Hill We Climb, I was so moved. Amanda Gorman, for example, writes about her single mother’s experiences—I was also raised largely by my mother.”

Before writing spoken word poems, Krieger worked as a journalist. Gershwin Boniface, the Amsterdam city poet, urged her to do something with her poetry. “It’s now like I don’t know anything else,” Krieger says. “The structure of the poem provides guidance. From there I begin to be puzzled by words, where I can then express my anger, but also weakness and love.”

Krieger turns all eyes on him for translation. At first she was concerned about criticism, “For example, that I only got the job because I’m a black woman. But I put that aside. I got the job because I’m a black woman who’s good at what she does.”

Here’s another look at Gorman’s The Hill We Climb at US President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January:

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