Catching up with Amanda Gorman, Inaugural Poet
Young poet Amanda Gorman won her global reputation on Jan 20th, 2021 for her poem The Hill We Climb, which she recited at the inauguration of President Joe Biden. History will record that she was the youngest inaugural poet ever. In her poem, she described herself as “a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother [who] can dream of becoming president, only to find herself reciting for one.” The reading was powerful, especially when she spoke of “A force that would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated,” thus summoning memories of the riot at the Capitol on January 6th. Born in 1998, the 22-year-old Gorman recently graduated from Harvard University. In April 2017, she became the first poet to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. Although she has won many honors, her journey to the 2021 Presidential Inauguration was not smooth sailing. Gorman was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder in kindergarten. She also had a speech impediment, which she fought hard to overcome in her childhood. In 2018, in an interview with Understood, Gorman said she and her twin sister were born prematurely, which may have led to her hearing and speech difficulties. In an interview with CNN, Gorman noted she was unable to pronounce the letter R sound until 2 or 3 years ago, “and even to this day sometimes I struggle with it, which is difficult when you have a poem in which you say ‘rise’ like five times.” But Gorman, who did receive speech therapy, didn’t view her speech impediment as a crutch — rather, she saw it as a gift and a strength. She told The Harvard Gazette in 2018, “I always saw it as a strength because since I was experiencing these obstacles in terms of my auditory and vocal skills, I became really good at reading and writing. I realized that at a young age when I was reciting the Marianne Deborah Williamson quote ‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure’ to my mom.” And in another 2018 interview, Gorman told Today that she fell in love with words and poetry when she was in third grade. She used writing to get her voice on the page. Practicing and reciting her poetry became its own form of speech therapy for her. Despite those challenges, Gorman has always made the best of her situation in her life. She has made progress toward her goals, taking them step by step. Her future is bright. She has two new books which will be published in September 2021, Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem and The Hill We Climb: Poems. On Feb. 7, Gorman recited another original poem, “Chorus of the Captains,” before the Super Bowl. In these new verses, she honored and introduced the public to the three honorary captains of the game, individuals who gave of their time and sacrificed to help others in need. There had never been a poem recited at the Super Bowl until this year, and so the honor was also truly for her. What great things will this shining young American accomplish in the future? Well, she has stated her intention to run for president in 2036! We at iPub Global Connections salute Amanda Gorman for all of her talents, skills, and hard fought recognition as a literary artist and rising star.