Earlier today, we fell in love with Amanda Gorman when she recited “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden and Vice President Harris’ inauguration. The first National Youth Poet Laureate in the US, Gorman is obviously deeply talented. At age 23, she’s also young.
I was impressed by her leadership, passion and drive, and how she chose to use this opportunity to “to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal.”
I wasn’t the only one who was moved. Social media immediately exploded with praise for Gorman and her rising star status.
A couple of hours after I watched her recite that stunning poem, I chanced on an article I’d ripped out of the Oprah magazine in 2018 and saved for inspiration. The piece detailed Gorman’s challenges growing up as the daughter of a single mother who couldn’t always afford the speech therapy Gorman needed for her auditory processing disorder. At times, her mother had to choose whether to put food on the table or send Gorman to speech therapy. Here’s what Gorman said about that:
But poetry was a constant. I didn’t need socioeconomic resources to train myself to be better at that.
At age 20, I still suffer from self-doubt. To deal with it, I have what I call a literary talisman–a necklace my grandmother gave me. When I’m nervous before performing, I hold it and say, “I am the daughter of black writers who are descended from freedom fighters who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me.” And 100 percent of the time after saying that, I’m ready to go.
Which is exactly what Amanda Gorman did today. Change the world.
So it’s probably not much of a surprise that the tagline on her website reads as follows:
Thank you, Amanda Gorman.
And thank you, President Biden and Vice President Harris, for stepping up to do the work.
May we all come together in hope and healing.
May we all change the world.
In hope, unity and belief in the written–and spoken–word,