Amanda Gorman Spotlight

Amanda Gorman delivering her inauguration poem

On January 20th, National Poet Youth Laureate Amanda Gorman recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” for the inauguration of President Joe Biden. The tradition of having an inaugural poet started in 1961, when Robert Frost was the poet laureate for John F. Kennedy. However, this tradition has not been upheld for every presidential election, which makes Amanda Gorman part of a select group of poets who have had this honor, including Richard Blanco, Miller Williams, and Elizabeth Alexander. At the age of 22, Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet, making this an even more momentous accomplishment in her career as a poet. Additionally, even Gorman’s inaugural outfit had an interesting background story as Gorman carried with her the power of poets who preceded her. When Maya Angelou was the poet laureate in 1993, Oprah Winfrey gave her the coat and gloves she wore, and she offered to do the same for Gorman. However, Gorman respectfully declined because she had already picked out her coat and was extremely excited to wear it. So instead, Winfrey gave her earrings and a ring in the shape of a caged bird as a tribute to Maya Angelou and her poem “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

Even before the inauguration, Gorman was well-known in the poetry community. In 2014, she was the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles and three years later she became the first US National Youth Poet Laureate. Additionally, in 2017, she delivered her poem “In This Place: An American Lyric” at the Library of Congress. In 2015, she published her first poetry book “The One For Whom Food Is Not Enough.” When she was 16, she founded a non-profit organization, One Pen One Page, which focused on developing people’s poetry skills through workshops and teaching the youth how to advocate for themselves. After highschool, she attended Harvard College, where she studied sociology.

Now, after the inauguration, Gorman’s career is skyrocketing. This year she’s publishing an anthology, a children’s book and a hardcover edition of her inauguration poem. The demand is incredibly high for these unreleased books, as her publisher stated that they have to print one million copies of each of the three works in order to meet the growing demand. Additionally, last weekend, she became the first poet to ever perform at the Super Bowl, with her poem entitled, “Chorus of Captains.” Gorman’s career is also expanding past being a poet, she was recently signed to IMG Models.  Though Gorman hasn’t made a statement about the details of the deal, she did talk about her love for fashion in a Vogue interview. 

Interview with Vogue article:

Amanda Gorman Ted Talk:

“In This Place: An American Lyric”