Amanda Gorman “screamed and danced her head off” when she found out she had been chosen to read one of her poems at Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony.
Her poem, The Hill We Climb, is a new composition she said she hoped would “speak to the moment” and “do this time justice”.
Gorman completed her poem on 6 January, the day the Capitol in Washington DC was stormed by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
The poet wore a mask as she arrived at Wednesday’s ceremony. Her poem speaks of
Born in LA in 1998, Gorman had a speech impediment as a child – an affliction she shares with America’s new president.
Three years later, while studying sociology at Harvard, she became the first national youth poet laureate.
She published her first book, The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough, in 2015 and will publish a picture book, Change Sings, later this year.
She follows in the footsteps of Maya Angelou, Richard Blanco and Robert Frost, who are among the five poets to have performed at previous presidential inaugurations.
When Amanda Gorman was asked to write a poem for President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, she didn’t know where to begin.
The nation has just been through a bitter election. Americans are as divided as ever. And the pandemic continues to rage.
“It was really daunting to begin the poem because you don’t even really know the entry point in which to step into the murk,” she said in an interview Monday with NPR’s Steve Inskeep.
Gorman started by doing the same thing she always does doing her research. She steeped herself in the literature of past inaugural poets.
She looked to orators from throughout history who have spoken not just about a divided America, but also a united America. She read Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, even Winston Churchill.