Who is Amanda Gorman? 10 Things To Know About The Inaugural Poet
Amanda Gorman wowed the world at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration (side note: how good does it feel to say President Biden?)
Amanda delivered a stirring performance of her poem, “The Hill We Climb” just after Vice President Harris and President Biden were sworn into office. After a particularly difficult and divisive time in American history, Amanda managed to capture the mood perfectly and easily stole the show from Lady Gaga, which is no easy feat.
Here’s some facts that you need to know about Amanda Gorman.
She has a twin sister
Amanda was born on 7th March 1998 in Los Angeles, California. She has a twin sister, Gabrielle, who is a filmmaker and activist.
She attended Harvard University
Amanda has a seriously impressive biography. Among them is that she is a recent graduate of Harvard University, which is one of the top schools in the US. She studied sociology whilst at Harvard College.
Amanda is passionate about activism
Amanda’s art and activism focus on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalisation.
She is the youngest person to be chosen as the Inaugural Poet
It is tradition for the Presidential Inauguration to feature a poet who reads a piece of their own work. At only 22 years-old Amanda is the youngest person ever to be chosen as the Inaugural Poet.
The First Lady DR. Jill Biden Discovered Her Work
The new First Lady was the one who stumbled upon Gorman’s work only days before the inauguration. She was watching a reading Gorman gave at the Library of Congress, according to the Times, when she asked if Gorman might read something for the inauguration. Over a Zoom call, she was told she’d been picked to present, and she’d need to be on a flight to Washington, D.C., soon.
“They did not want to put up guardrails for me at all,” Gorman told the Times. “The theme for the inauguration in its entirety is ‘America United,’ so when I heard that was their vision, that made it very easy for me to say, great, that’s also what I wanted to write about in my poem, about America united, about a new chapter in our country.”
She Struggled To Finish Her Poem Until The Night of The Capitol Insurrection
While writing her poem, she listened to music that put her “in a historic and epic mind-set,” she told the Los Angeles Times, including the soundtracks from Netflix series The Crown, as well as the soundtrack from Hamilton. But in the weeks coming up to Wednesday, January 20, Gorman hit a roadblock. The pressure to write something so inspiring it would transform a nation, à la Abraham Lincoln’s or Martin Luther King Jr.’s addresses, was Herculean. It wasn’t until she watched a pro-Trump mob descend on the Capitol earlier this month that she was able to finish “The Hill We Climb.”
After watching Confederate flags stormed through the seat of American government, she added the lines, “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.”
Amanda Struggled With A Speech Impediment
Like the 46th president, Gorman has a speech impediment she has worked to overcome. “The writing process is its own excruciating form, but as someone with a speech impediment, speaking in front of millions of people presents its own type of terror,” Gorman told the Times as she prepared for the inauguration.
She described to NPR that, as a child, she struggled to pronounce certain letters of the alphabet, such as the letter R, and therefore had to constantly “self-edit and self-police.”
When she first started performing, she worried over which words to include in her poems, fearing that she might not be able to say them correctly.
“I would be in the bathroom scribbling five minutes before trying to figure out if I could say ‘Earth’ or if I can say ‘girl’ or if I can say ‘poetry,'” she told NPR. “And you know, doing the best with the poem I could.”
She draws courage from the poets who have come before her—especially Angelou, who was mute as a child. “I think there is a real history of orators who have had to struggle, a type of imposed voicelessness, you know, having that stage at inauguration,” Gorman says. “So it’s really special for me.”
She Has Written A Book
Expect to see and hear a lot more about Amanda. First up is the release of her first children’s book .
And Amanda also has a book of poems set for release. Named after her stirring poem “The Hill We Climb,” the book will feature a number of poems by Amanda. It will be released in September 2021.
We cannot wait to see what Amanda does next!