22-year-old Amanda Gorman is the youngest poet who recited at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration on the 20th of January. Jill Biden, Joe Biden’s wife was the one who proposed her candidacy after she saw one of her readings. She was the sixth poet to appear as a performer at the presidential inauguration, with her poem “The Hill We Climb”. She has shared a brief quote from it during her interview with the New York Times:
We have 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 was born in Los Angeles and graduated from the faculty of Sociology at Harvard University. She started to write her poems at the age of five. In 2014 she founded a non-profit organization One Pen One Page, that supports youth advocacy, poetry programs, and leadership development. She also frequently visits primary and high schools in order to discuss the influence and importance of poetry with students. Most of her poems are related to young people of color, especially black teenage girls, in a manner that nobody else can relate to.
In 2017 at the age of 19, she became America’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has also read her poem at the inauguration of the 22nd U.S. poet laureate, Tracy K. Smith. From her childhood, she has had a speech impediment, that made it difficult to pronounce some specific sounds correctly. However, Amanda does not define her disability as some kind of weakness. It is something that made her the person and storyteller she is now and trying 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.” – she said. Besides writing her poems, she is also New York Times contributor, accomplished speaker, and children’s book author. This year she has also written a book “Change signs”, which is a reminder for the young generation that they “have the power to shape the world” – wrote Gorman on her Instagram page.
As she told the Los Angeles Times, America is still developing and is on its pathway to democracy, therefore she wanted to highlight those ‘scars and the wounds’ that her country faces today in her poem, and is hoping to finally see a phase of their healing.
With future plans that also include running for president in 2036, we are expecting to see much more from this young and talented woman. “I believe the greatest achievements come from leaving some type of small imprint on a young, powerful soul,” she states. “That is no small feat.”