The other attendees are still coming, but we wanted to give Amanda Gorman her own moment. Amanda is as poised and impressive a woman as you could imagine. At 22, she has been named our first National Youth Poet Laureate, and is the youngest ever to read her work at the Inauguration. She came out in a coat the color of sunshine and delivered a poem called “The Hill We Climb” that had so many quotable lines, I lost track of them. As soon as she finished, I texted my son’s teacher (who is also a friend) and said, “What a time for them to be learning poetry. That is going to be REALLY rewarding to teach.” In fact, the New York Times put together a digital lesson of sorts about Gorman and her work, and it cites her literary mantra as, “I am the daughter of Black writers, who are descended from Freedom Fighters, who broke the chains who changed the world. They call me.”
I also want to direct you to this Vogue interview with and piece about Gorman, which explains how she chose her coat and its designer, and the meaning of her jewelry — it’s all woven together with real care and thought.
Some snippets of “The Hill We Climb”:
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs 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, benevolent 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, become the future.
Our blunders become their burdens.
We will rise from the windswept north, east where our forefathers first realized revolution.
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states.
We will rise from the sun-baked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover.
And every known nook of 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 is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.
I am crying AGAIN. Please watch her if you missed it — or again — because she’s marvelous:
She represents the hope and possibility I think we all want to feel. (Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff was visible during her poem in a couple of the shots, and he was EXTREMELY moved.) She also has two books coming out in the fall of 2021, a poetry anthology called The Hill We Climb and a children’s book called Change Sings. I can’t wait to see what else she does.