Change-maker. Symbol of hope.
That’s how the world is describing Amanda Gorman, the youngest poet laureate of the United States, follwoing her uplifting recital at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on 20 January at Washington D.C.
Gorman, 22, offered a message of hope and unity as she performed her poem “The Hill We Climb.” Her original piece spoke about the recent Capitol Hills siege and how politics became so divisive that America, she described, “isn’t broken but rather unfinished.”
In an interview with the New York Times (NYT), Gorman said it was First Lady Jill Biden who invited her to be part of the inauguration. She added that while she wasn’t given any direction on what to write, she was rather asked to base her work on the event’s theme, “America United.”
“We have to confront these realities if we’re going to move forward, so that’s also an important touchstone of the poem,” she told NYT.
Gorman drew inspiration from American leaders Abraham Lincoln and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. while she was working on the poem.
Amanda Gorman graduated cum laude at Harvard University where she finished Sociology. She wrote her first collection of poetry, The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough, in 2015. She has also penned articles for the New York Times’ newsletter The Edit and has three upcoming books with Penguin Random House.
Her works earned her invitations to the Obama White House and opportunity to perform for Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, Al Gore, Secretary Hillary Clinton and Malala Yousafzai. Amanda has received a Genius Grant from OZY Media, as well as recognition from Scholastic Inc., YoungArts, Glamour magazine College Women of the Year Awards and the Webby Awards. She also wrote Nike’s 2020 Black History Month campaign’s manifesto.
In addition, Amanda is a recipient of the Poets & Writers Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award. She is the youngest board member of 826 National, the largest youth writing network in the United States. It was in 2017 when she was named the first ever National Youth Poet Laureate in the United States by the UrbanWord and the Library of Congress.
Amanda is the founder and executive director of One Pen One Page, an organization dedicated to promoting literacy through youth writing and leadership programs. It was during the Biden-Harris inauguration that she shared her ambition of becoming a President in 2036.