Amanda Gorman: The Youngest Inaugural Poet in History

Amanda Gorman read her poem The Hill We Climb in front of a sea of masked Americans during Joe Biden’s Presidential Inaugural Swearing-In Ceremony. She stood in the U.S. Capitol on January 20th, 2021, to recite a poem about hope and change, echoing some of the messages Biden has used during his campaign. For example, when Biden said, “We must end this uncivil war,” Gorman echoed: “We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another.”

You can listen to the complete poem below:

Gorman is a 22 year-old poet from Los Angeles, making her the youngest Inaugural Poet in history. Amanda Gorman has been a renowned poet for many years. In 2012, she joined the non-profit organization WriteGirl, which helps empower teenage girls through creative writing. In 2014, while she still attended the WriteGirl workshops, she was chosen as the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles; only three years later, at age 19, she became the first Youth Poet Laureate in American history. She was a freshman at Harvard University at that time, and in 2020 she graduated cum laude with a degree in sociology.

In 2017 Amanda Gorman was also the inaugural poet for the 22nd U.S. Poet Laureate ceremony introducing Tracy K. Smith. During the ceremony, she read her poem In This Place (An American Lyric). It’s a poem that condemns the racist march that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Hill We Climb was also written in response to current events; she wrote most of it watching the pro-Trump extremists storm the Capitol on January 6th.

Despite her struggle with a speech impediment, Gorman has become an exemplary poet, public speaker, and activist. She has many projects in the works, including two children’s books and a poetry collection. Her first picture book comes out in September, with illustrations by Loren Long. The book is titled Change Sings, and it’s a story about music and the idea that anything is possible when people join their voices. She wrote it to “remind young readers that they have the power to shape the world.” The book will be released on September 21st, 2021, and it’s currently available for pre-order.

Her debut poetry collection is titled The Hill We Climb and includes the titular poem read at the inauguration. It’s currently available for pre-order with an expected release date of September 21st, 2021. Both Change Sings and The Hill We Climb have shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list.


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