Amanda Gorman recites a poem during the inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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Who Is Amanda Gorman? How the Young Poet Became the Star of Inauguration Day

During the final moments of a breathtaking, historic Inauguration Day, where President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris (the first female, Black, and Asian vice president) were sworn into office, all eyes were on a young, rising star named Amanda Gorman. The 22-year-old from Los Angeles, California performed her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the ceremony, becoming the youngest Inaugural Poet in U.S. history. 

Here is just some of what we know about the talented poet—who has her eyes set on becoming the President of the United States herself one day.

Gorman Turned to Poetry to Cope With a Speech Impediment

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Gorman fell in love with poetry after hearing her teacher read Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” to the class. She then turned to writing to cope with her speech impediment. Similar to how President Biden had a stutter growing up, Gorman had difficulty pronouncing certain sounds. 

“I don’t look at my disability as a weakness,” Gorman told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s made me the performer that I am and the storyteller that I strive to be. When you have to teach yourself how to say sounds, when you have to be highly concerned about pronunciation, it gives you a certain awareness of sonics, of the auditory experience.

The Poet Laureate Participated in a Popular Mentoring Program in L.A.

At age 14, Gorman joined WriteGirl, a nonprofit organization in Los Angeles that promotes creativity and self-expression to empower girls, attending their monthly creative writing workshops and working one-on-one with writing mentors. 

“WriteGirl has been pivotal in my life. It’s been thanks to their support that I’ve been able to chase my dreams as a writer,” Gorman told NBC. “Special shout-out to my former mentors Michelle and Dinah. Couldn’t have gotten here without you!”

WriteGirl Executive Director Keren Taylor noted that she had “no doubt Amanda’s messages of hope, unity, and justice will help us all heal and move forward.”

For aspiring poets or writers who want to follow in Gorman’s footsteps, parents can get their kids involved in WriteGirl in L.A., Girls Write Now in New York City, or similar local organizations in your community.

Gorman Has a Track Record of Being a Celebrated Trailblazer

Gorman has already been a trailblazer not once but twice. When she was 16, she was named the first-ever Los Angeles Youth Poet LaureateThe New York Times reports that Gorman—who was inspired by a speech that Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist and Nobel Prize laureate, gave in 2013—became a youth delegate for the United Nations. “It really opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could accomplish,” she said. 

Once little girls can see it, little girls can be it. Because they can be anything that they want, but that representation to make the dream exist in the first place is huge—even for me.

Soon after, in 2014, she was named the inaugural Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate. The following year, she published her first poetry collection, “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough.”

Then, in 2017, when she was 19 and a sophomore at Harvard University, she became the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate. At the time, the Times noted that “her poetry is a cleareyed mix of autobiography, social issues like Islamophobia, and historical motifs picked up from her college’s library.” Gorman said of her work, “I want to create poems that stand the test of time and counter the fragmented news culture of today.”

The Poet Has Two Books Forthcoming and Plans to Run for President

Gorman recently graduated cum laude from Harvard University, and she has two books forthcoming with Penguin Random House: a children’s book called Change Sings and an upcoming poetry collection.

She is also the first person to announce her intention to run for president in 2036, the first election cycle in which she’ll be old enough to do so. She told the L.A. Times that Vice President Harris reinvigorated her plans.

“There’s no denying that a victory for her is a victory for all of us who would like to see ourselves represented as women of color in office,” she told the newspaper. “It makes it more imaginable. Once little girls can see it, little girls can be it. Because they can be anything that they want, but that representation to make the dream exist in the first place is huge—even for me.”

Written by Maressa Brown 

Read the original article on Parents

Below, a full transcript of Gorman’s poem that has everyone talking.

Amanda Gorman’s “The Hill We Climb” Poem Transcript

Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans, and the world.

When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never ending shade?
The loss we carry, a sea.
We must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.
And the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice.
And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that it isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and the time where a skinny Black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.

To compose a country, committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else say, this is true.
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired.
We tried that we’ll forever be tied together victorious.
Not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree and no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lie in the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade the hill we climb.
If only we dare it’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit.
It’s the past we step into and how we repair it.

We close the divide because we know to put our future first, we must first put our differences aside

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation, rather than share it.
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 in this truth.
In this faith we trust for while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.
This is the era of just redemption.
We feared it in its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of of such a terrifying hour, but within it, we found the power to author a new chapter.
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So while once we asked, how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised.
But whole benevolence, but bold, fierce, and free.

We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens, but one thing is certain.
If we merged mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country better than the one.

For there was always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it.

We were left with every breath, my bronze pounded chest.
We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold limbed hills of the West.
We will rise from the wind swept to Northeast where our forefathers first realized the revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the middle Western States.
We will arise from the sun baked South.
We will rebuild, reconciled and recover and every known nook over our nation.

And every corner called our country.
Our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful.
When day comes, we step out of the shade of flame and unafraid, the new dawn balloons, as we free it.
For there was always light.
If only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

*This transcript has been edited since initial publication.

 

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