Biden-Harris Inauguration: Things To know About The Young Inaugural Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman
NEWSMAN – 22-year-old writer and first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman took the United States and indeed the world’s breath away as she recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” and became an inspiration for the next generation.
Invited to the inauguration late last month by first lady Jill Biden, Gorman, during the final moments of a breathtaking, historic Inauguration Day, where President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris sworn into office, captured the hearts of many around the world with her poem.
This made her become the youngest Inaugural Poet in U.S. history.
We, the successors of a country and a time, where a skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother, can dream of becoming president. Only to find herself reciting for one.parts of Gorman’s poem read.
Here are some of the things we know about the talented poet—who has her eyes set on becoming the President of the United States herself one day.
-A Brief biography-
Amanda Gorman is an African-American woman from Los Angeles, California, United States. She is a poet and an activist.
Born in born March 7, 1998, she was raised in Los Angeles by her mother, Joan Woods, a sixth grade English teacher in Watts, Los Angeles, Gorman studied sociology at Harvard.
She and her twin sister Gabrielle Gorman have one more sibling. Among the issues Gorman focuses on are oppression, marginalization, feminism, racism, police brutality, incarceration of migrant children, abortion bans in the U.S. and the African diaspora.
Gorman is the founder of the nonprofit organization One Pen One Page, which runs a youth writing and leadership program.
-Gorman Turned to Poetry to Cope With a Speech Impediment-
Gorman fell in love with poetry after hearing her teacher read Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” to the class. She then turned to writing to cope with her speech impediment.
Similar to how President Biden had a stutter growing up, Gorman had difficulty pronouncing certain letters of the alphabet, especially the letter R, so instead of saying, “Girls can change the world,” she would say, “Young women can shape the globe.”
“I don’t look at my disability as a weakness, 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”, Gorman told the Los Angeles Times.
-The Poet Laureate Participated in a Popular Mentoring Program in L.A.-
At age 14, Gorman joined WriteGirl, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that promotes creativity and self-expression to empower girls, attending their monthly creative writing workshops and working one-on-one with writing mentors.
“WriteGirl has been pivotal in my life. It’s been thanks to their support that I’ve been able to chase my dreams as a writer,” Gorman told NBC. “Special shout-out to my former mentors Michelle and Dinah. Couldn’t have gotten here without you!”
WriteGirl Executive Director Keren Taylor noted that she had “no doubt Amanda’s messages of hope, unity, and justice will help us all heal and move forward.”
-Gorman Has a Track Record of Being a Celebrated Trailblazer-
Gorman has already been a trailblazer not once but twice. When she was 16, she was named the first-ever Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate. The New York Times reports that Gorman—who was inspired by a speech that Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize laureate, gave in 2013—became a youth delegate for the United Nations. “It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could accomplish,” she said.
Once little girls can see it, little girls can be it. Because they can be anything that they want, but that representation to make the dream exist in the first place is huge—even for me.
Soon after, in 2014, she was named the inaugural Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate. The following year, she published her first poetry collection, “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough.”
Then, in 2017, when she was 19 and a sophomore at Harvard University, she became the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate. At the time, the Times noted that “her poetry is a cleareyed mix of autobiography, social issues like Islamophobia, and historical motifs picked up from her college’s library.” Gorman said of her work, “I want to create poems that stand the test of time and counter the fragmented news culture of today.”
-Gorman Has Two Books Forthcoming and Plans to Run for President-
Gorman recently graduated cum laude from Harvard University, and she has two books forthcoming with Penguin Random House: a children’s book called Change Sings and an upcoming poetry collection.
She is also the first person to announce her intention to run for president in 2036, the first election cycle in which she’ll be old enough to do so. She told the L.A. Times that Vice President Harris reinvigorated her plans.
“There’s no denying that a victory for her is a victory for all of us who would like to see ourselves represented as women of color in office,” she told the newspaper. “It makes it more imaginable. Once little girls can see it, little girls can be it. Because they can be anything that they want, but that representation to make the dream exist in the first place is huge—even for me.”
-People who inspire her-
Gorman has no doubt inspired a lot of young people through her art and recognized talent which has earned her the milestones she has achieved so far.
Maya Angelou, J.K. Rowling, Toni Morrison and Ron Chernow are among her favorite authors. Toni Morrison and Yusef Komunyakaa are among her artistic influences. Jill Biden, wife of 46th U.S. president Joe Biden, is also a fan of her work.
She wrote the poem “The Hill We Climb” while watching news about how 45th U.S. president Donald Trump‘s supporters breached the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021.
Watch Amanda Gorman’s, recited during the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, January 20, 2020.
However, Former US presidents,: John F Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also had poets read at their inauguration.