Amanda Gorman leaves nation in awe after reading at Biden inauguration

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22 year old Harvard graduate Amanda Gorman reciting her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the presidential inauguration. Gorman is the youngest poet to ever recite a piece at an inauguration.

January 20th, 2021 marked the inauguration of the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden. This inauguration is hugely significant for many reasons, notably for taking place just weeks after major insurrection at the Capitol building, introducing the first female –and woman of color– vice president, and occurring while the the U.S. is still deep in the COVID-19 pandemic.

But even with the multitude of unprecedented factors, young poet Amanda Gorman managed to captivate the nation with her poem “The Hill We Climb,” which was written in solitude amid the pandemic as Gorman drew inspiration from soundtracks from “The Crown,” “Lincoln,” “Darkest Hour,” and “Hamilton.”

The poem, lasting nearly six minutes, acknowledges the sociopolitical struggles America has grappled with especially in the recent months but creates a striking and uplifting tone. Lines such as “But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated,” and “a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free,” illustrate Gorman’s view that we as Americans can prevail and there is hope for a bright future.

As a recent Harvard graduate, Gorman, 22, became the youngest poet to recite a piece at a presidential inauguration. However, despite her youth, Gorman has been enthralled by poetry for over a decade, citing Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” as her initial source of inspiration in the third grade that would propel her to her immense love for poetry and her many accomplishments thus far.

The audience wouldn’t guess it by Gorman’s flawless, impassioned delivery on the 20th, but the young poet, like her predecessor Maya Angelou and now-president Joe Biden, has struggled with a speech impediment her entire life. Gorman has stressed publicly that she does not see it as a weakness, though, and instead it has provided her with a special awareness of sounds and pronunciation that has aided her public speaking.

While Gorman’s poem at the 2021 inauguration was a great success, she is far from done in the public light. Gorman has already been vocal on several pressing issues including police brutality, U.S. abortion bans, and the incarceration of migrant children. 

Finally, she has already announced that she plans to run for president in 2036 (the first presidential election she will be old enough to do so), as Vice President Harris paves the way for women and specifically women of color in the White House.