Who Is The 22-Year-Old Inauguration Poet, Amanda Gorman?

As the Biden inauguration took place on January 20, 2021, the world watched one administration replace another. A frequently combative government was replaced by what citizens hope is a peaceful, more democratic one. One president hesitantly stepped down after a single term plagued with riots, a rise in white supremacist violence, and a legacy of less than professional tweets, replaced by a new leader who we can hope doesn't repeat the same mistakes.

Freedom, change, progression, and a more democratic society were some of the themes expressed when a young Black poet spoke during the event, reciting her lyrics for a nation that could use a little poetry, especially poetry that expresses hope, in a time when we face a disease-riddled world, our citizenry increasingly divided through ideologies of hate. That poet is Amanda Gorman.

Gorman's poem, titled "The Hill We Climb," raised goosebumps on the skin of those who tuned in to hear it. She spoke of hope and overcoming catastrophe. This was one of few inaugurations that have utilized the lyrical stylings of poets to usher in the transition between presidents. It puts Gorman in a small collection of poets whose names won't be forgotten anytime soon: Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, Elizabeth Alexander, and Richard Blanco. Though you might not have heard of Gorman before this event, the 22-year-old is a seasoned poet who's already made her mark on the literary world, and she shows no sign of stopping soon.

Young, talented, and accomplished

"The Hill We Climb" is one of many pieces to be included in Amanda Gorman's upcoming poetry book, set to drop in September of this year along with her first children's picture book, according to CBS. The publishing deals are just a small drop in the bucket of the 22-year-old's accomplishments that led to her being not only one of six poets to read their work during a presidential inauguration, but the youngest ever to do so.

According to The New York Times, Gorman has had a love affair with poetry since she was young, or at least younger. At the age of 16, she was awarded the title of Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. Three years following, she became the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate while studying sociology at Harvard, according to BBC. These accomplishments are dreams to most in the literary world, and Gorman has achieved them at an age when most haven't even figured out what they want to do with their lives.

The poem she read at President Biden's inauguration was delivered flawlessly, with heart and passion, in a way her younger self may not have predicted. Gorman, like Biden, grew up with a speech impediment, she told theĀ BBC, and credits that challenge with turning her into the artist she is today.