Amanda Gorman will become the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history today when she recites her poem “The Hill We Climb” during President-elect Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old Los Angeles resident and a teacher’s daughter started writing at an early age in an attempt to cope with a speech impediment. Her writing practice took off and at age 14 she joined WriteGirl, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that helps teenage girls discover the power of their voices through creative writing. Gorman credits the group’s support for allowing him to pursue his dreams as a writer, reports CBS Los Angeles.
At age 16, she was named the Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate, and a few years later, while studying sociology at Harvard, became the first National Youth Poet Laureate.
Gorman was invited to recite at the inauguration at the request of Jill Biden, the incoming first lady, who had seen the young poet read at the Library of Congress, and suggested that he read something at the end of December. ‘inauguration.
Over the past few weeks, Gorman has been writing a few lines a day, and she finished writing late on the night of January 6, when pro-Trump rioters stormed the Capitol.
His poem, “The Hill We Climb”, will align with the theme of the pledging ceremony of the call for national unity during a time of disease, death and political division unprecedented in the country. In researching for his work, Gorman drew upon speeches by American leaders at other historical times of division, including Abraham Lincoln and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
“I had this huge thing, probably one of the most important things I will ever do in my career,” she said in an interview with The New York Times. “It was like trying to climb this mountain all at once, I’m just going to pass out.”
Gorman will join figures like Maya Angelou and Robert Frost in the small group of poets who have been invited to mark a presidential inauguration. To prepare for Wednesday’s event, she spoke to two previous groundbreaking poets, Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco, for advice.
Blanco offered heartwarming words, Gorman told The New York Times, when he said “he’s just not one of us up there, he’s a portrayal of American poetry.”
“More than ever, the United States needs an inaugural poem,” said Gorman. “Poetry is usually the touchstone we return to when we need to remember the history we stand on and the future we stand for.
Gorman’s future is bright: she will soon publish two books, including the children’s book “Change Sings” which will be released in September. She has also announced her intention to run for president in 2036, the LA Times reports, the first electoral cycle in which she will be of age. The poet credits the political career and achievements of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris for inspiring her plans.
“There is 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 power,” Gorman told the LA Times. “It makes it more imaginable. Once the little girls can see it, the little girls can be. Because they can be whatever they want, but this representation to make the dream come true in the first place is huge – even for me. “
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