Story at a glance

  • Amanda Gorman is set to become the youngest inaugural poet in memory.
  • Her poem “The Hill We Climb” was inspired by the U.S. Capitol insurrection.
  • The Black writer and activist has covered race and racism in her work.

Amanda Gorman was just a few years old when she began writing. She was 16 when she became a youth delegate for the United Nations and 19 when she became the nation's first youth poet laureate.

Now 22, the award-winning writer and graduate of Harvard University will become the youngest inaugural poet in memory as President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

 

She finished the poem, titled "The Hill We Climb," just about a week before Inauguration Day, inspired by the insurrection of the United States Capitol by President Trump's supporters.  


THE LATEST ON THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT

WHAT THE 2020 BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTESTS HAVE ACHIEVED SO FAR

MORE THAN HALF OF VOTERS THINK AMERICAN SOCIETY IS RACIST: POLL

PROTESTERS’ DEMANDS TO DEFUND THE POLICE TAKE HOLD

YOU MAY THINK YOU'RE NOT A RACIST. BUT THAT'S NOT ENOUGH

BOOKS ON RACE AND DISCRIMINATION BECOME BESTSELLERS IN WAKE OF GEORGE FLOYD KILLING


“That day gave me a second wave of energy to finish the poem,” she told The Associated Press. And while she won't refer directly to Jan. 6, she said, "The poem isn't blind. It isn't turning your back to the evidence of discord and division."

Neither does she, a Black woman and activist who has written about race and racism both in her professional work, including her 2015 book "The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough," and on her personal accounts. Her poem “In This Place (An American Lyric),” which was displayed at the Morgan Library and Museum in 2018, addressed the racist march in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017. 

“Tyrants fear the poet.


Now that we know it


we can’t blow it.


We owe it


to show it


not slow it,” she read at the 2017 inaugural reading of U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith.


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


As the Capitol was under attack, Gorman took to Twitter.

 

Gorman is hypersensitive to sound, she told The New York Times, and had a speech impediment in her adolescence that led her to poetry, she said in an essay for the Huffington Post in 2017. On Wednesday, she will speak before the entire nation, following in the footsteps of her predecessors, who she thanked on Twitter.

 

“The three of us are together in mind, body and spirit,” she told The Associated Press.

This won't be her first trip to Washington, having performed at the White House at the invitation of former President Obama as well as the Library of Congress. And she doesn’t intend for it to be her last.

Sharing presidential aspirations herself, Gorman told The Associated Press, “I’m going to tell Biden that I’ll be back."


READ MORE LIKE THIS FROM CHANGING AMERICA

MICHELLE OBAMA OPENS UP LIKE NEVER BEFORE IN NEW NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY

WASHINGTON NFL FOOTBALL TEAM TO CHANGE CONTROVERSIAL NAME, LOGO

HOW ONE PHILADELPHIA SPORTS TEAM IS HONORING BLACK LIVES TAKEN BY POLICE

HBO'S 'STOCKTON ON MY MIND' FEATURES A YOUNG MAYOR AT THE HELM OF A STRUGGLING CITY


 

Published on Jan 15, 2021