This is monumental.
A Los Angeles poet is making history as the youngest poet to read at a Presidential inauguration, Blavity reports.
22-year-old Amanda Gorman is an accomplished poet, named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 and the first National Youth Poet Laureate of the United States in 2017. At the suggestion of soon-to-be First Lady, Jill Biden, Gorman was selected by the inaugural committee to recite a poem at the upcoming ceremony for President-elect Joe Biden.
Gorman has done several tributes, but none this historic or this grand in scale. Over the course of her career, she has written in celebration of Black athletes for Nike and the July 4th celebration and swearing in of president Larry Bacow at her alma mater, Harvard University. She has also landed a two-book deal with Viking Children’s Books.
“I have kind of stumbled upon this genre. It’s been something I find a lot of emotional reward in, writing something I can make people feel touched by, even if it’s just for a night,” Gorman told reporters.
Her work has centered around Black liberation, social issues, vulnerability, and her ancestors. While she is tasked with emphasizing unity and hope in her poem, Gorman said she will still address the very relevant social ills of our time, saying the attack at the U.S. Capitol revived her motivation.
“That day gave me a second wave of energy to finish the poem. The poem isn’t blind. It isn’t turning your back to the evidence of discord and division,” Gorman said.
She is grateful to be selected for the historic ceremony, following in the footsteps of poets like Maya Angelou and Robert Frost, who have spoken at past presidential inaugurations. Gorman is also grateful for the power shift with incoming administration and believes that Biden and Harris are the right people for the job.
“[Biden and Harris will] spearhead a new chapter in America, which we so desperately need — one of dignity, and integrity, and hope and unity. There’s a lot that needs to get done and a lot that needs to be fixed. And I think that they’re the people to do it. The inauguration is a huge step for me to be part of a moment that has such historicity in it. And for me, just trying to do justice for the moment, trying to do justice to the incredible inaugural poets who’ve come before me,” said Gorman.
The 59th Presidential Inauguration takes place on Wednesday, January 20th.
Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Mitchell