Amanda Gorman made History as the Youngest Known Inaugural Poet

Amanda Gorman at the Inaugural Poet
Amanda Gorman steps to the podium to recite her inaugural poem, "The Hill We Climb," during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. (DOD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

Words matter and are oftentimes used to communicate the sentiment of the masses who for all intents and purposes have been silenced by various institutions. At just 23 years old, literary poet and activist Amanda Gorman has accomplished things that many work their entire lifetime to achieve. From the Inauguration to the Super Bowl, Gorman has published books and been invited to speak all over the country.

Amanda Gorman at I021 inaguration
Amanda Gorman recites her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” during the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony in Washington, Jan. 20, 2021. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris took the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol. (DOD Photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II)

Early Life

Born to a single mother, Joan Wicks in Los Angeles, Gorman, a twin, is one of three siblings who grew up catholic and a member of St. Brigid Catholic Church in her hometown of Los Angeles. She excelled at reading and writing due to having an auditory processing disorder that results in the inability of the brain to process sounds. Gorman also had a speech impediment in which she went to speech therapy during her childhood. In middle school, Gorman discovered the literary works of black authors and poets in which she says she realized people who looked like her could tell stories.

Amanda Gorman attended a private school in Santa Monica, CA where she continued to hone her literary skills and went on to receive the Milken Family Foundation scholarship for college. She attended the illustrious Harvard University where she graduated in 2020 with a B.A. in Sociology.

Career

Before her recent successes and accolades, Amanda Gorman was already making waves. In 2015, Gorman released her first book, a poetry book titled The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough. The following year, she founded the non-profit organization, One Pen One Page, a literary writing program for youth. By 2017, she made history by being named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate in the United States. Gorman continued to ascend by achieving many firsts by becoming the first young poet to open the literary season for the Library of Congress and won a $10,000 grant from the OZY media company.

Perhaps the most notable achievement to date has been the invitation to recite her poem, The Hill We Climb, at the 2021 presidential inauguration of Joe Biden. Breaking yet another first, Gorman is the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration. She is also working on two books, the poetry collection The Hill We Climb and a children’s book, Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem. Both are set to be released in September of this year. In March, a 32-page commemorative edition with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey was released.

Touting both beauty and brains, Amanda Gorman has an eye for fashion. With an affinity for bold colors and prints, she makes sure to pay special attention to her appearance and how she presents herself. After the inauguration, she secured a modeling contract with IMG Models after her memorable speech on Inauguration Day. She has graced the covers of Vogue Magazine, Time Magazine, and featured in Glamour Magazine.

Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, and National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman attend a reception prior to the opening reading of Smith’s 2017-2018 term, September 13, 2017. Photo by Shawn Miller.

Legacy

Having already achieved so much, Amanda Gorman has only begun to scratch the surface of what will certainly be an admirable career. She hopes to make a successful bid for president one day advising that she intends on running in 2036. And, while her legacy is literally in the making, she has plenty of good company to glean from those that came before her such as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou, Audre Lorde, and Phillis Wheatley. Gorman is poised to leave an indelible mark on history as both a literary and style icon as she continues to forge her own path by using the power of her pen.

Recognition and Honors

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