Huge congratulations to Amanda Gorman who read an original poem she wrote for President Joe Biden at his swearing-in ceremony today. In it she stressed the need for unity.
An excerpt from the poem, “The Hill We Climb,” courtesy of NPR, seemed to focus on the promise of a better tomorrow, as it reads:
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it,
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very nearly succeeded.
But while democracy can be periodically delayed,
It can never be permanently defeated.
In this truth, in this faith, we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.
Gorman landed the gig after catching Dr. Jill Biden’s eye when she read her poem “In This Place: An American Lyric” at the Library of Congress in 2017. Gorman says today’s poem was inspired by poets like Maya Angelou and Robert Frost.
Here are 10 things you should know about the groundbreaking wordsmith.
1. At the age of 22, Gorman has made history becoming the youngest person to read a poem at an inauguration.
2. Gorman is a Los Angeles native who started her writing career when she was
only a few years old.
3. Gorman told NPR that she finished writing “The Hill We Climb” just hours after insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2020. She wants to stress the need for unity after the nation endured years of division under the Trump administration.
4. This isn’t the first time Gorman has been asked to read a poem for a person of status. According to her website, she was invited to the White House during Barack Obama’s presidency. She also performed for Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Lin-Manuel Miranda and activist Malala Yousafzai.
5. In August 2020, Gorman read one of her poems on The Kelly Clarkson Show. It was so emotionally charged that Clarkson couldn’t hold back her tears.
6. Gorman isn’t just an amazing poet, she’s also academically talented. The 22-year-old graduated cum laude from Harvard University where she studied Sociology.
7. She’s an award-winning writer who has received a Genius Grant from OZY Media. Gorman was also recognized by Scholastic Inc., YoungArts, the Glamour magazine College Women of the Year Awards and the Webby Awards which honors the best of the Internet. She has written for The New York Times newsletter The Edit, and is working on two books with Penguin Random House.
8. In 2017 Gorman was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate in the U.S. by the UrbanWord and the Library of Congress.
9. Gorman wrote the manifesto for Nike’s 2020 Black History Month campaign.
10. One thing you may not have known is that Gorman overcame a speech impediment. In an interview with the LA Times, she opened up about struggling with her speech sharing, “For me, there was this other echelon of pressure, which is: Can I say that which needs to be said?”