Stunning Inaugural Poet Who Captured America’s Attention Is No Stranger to Making History
It’s a tradition for a poet to speak at the presidential inauguration. Notably, Robert Frost spoke at the inauguration of JFK, while Maya Angelou recited poetry ahead of Bill Clinton taking the oath of office.
So, when Joe Biden was sworn in as president on Jan. 20, it was no surprise to see a poet at the podium. The historical element was that the poet, Amanda Gorman, was only 22-years-old — making her the youngest poet to write and recite a poem at a presidential inauguration with her piece titled “The Hill We Climb.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Jill Biden convinced the inaugural committee Gorman would be a good fit after seeing a reading of one of her poems at the Library of Congress. Gorman told Vogue having the first lady’s support gave her confidence ahead of her reading.
“I’m not saying I’m better than anyone else, but I was called by the Biden’s for a reason, and this moment has called me for a reason, so all I can do is show up and do my absolute best,” she said. “That’s all I can ask of myself.”
Like Dr. Biden, Gorman’s mother is also an educator. Gorman told the Times that having a mother who was a teacher had a “huge impact” on her, fueling her love of writing and poetry.
A background in education is not all Gorman has in common with the first family. Like President Biden, Gorman also suffers from a speech impediment. The poet has noted she particularly struggles with her pronunciation of the letter R, she told the Times.
“But I don’t look at my disability as a weakness,” she said. “It’s made me the performer that I am and the storyteller that I strive to be. When you have to teach yourself how to say sounds, when you have to be highly concerned about pronunciation, it gives you a certain awareness of sonics, of the auditory experience.”
Her confidence doesn’t end there — Gorman is also a trailblazer in fashion, using her Instagram account to feature bold looks. Famous faces have taken notice of her wardrobe, with Oprah sending her a pair of earrings to complete her inaugural ensemble.
“Every single time I get a text from [Oprah] I fall on the floor,” Gorman told Vogue. “[Fashion] has so much meaning to me, and it’s my way to lean into the history that came before me and all the people supporting me.”
If Gorman has captured your attention, you’re in for a treat in the fall. This September, she will release two debut books: “The Hill We Climb” and “Change Sings.” The first is a poetry collection that will feature the inaugural poem, and the other is a lyrical picture book that follows a young girl who leads people on a musical journey.
Did you hear Gorman’s poem at the inauguration ceremony? Let us know if you’re a fan of her work!