Amanda Gorman, hailed as the youngest poet laureate to make history at President Joe Biden’s inauguration ceremony, is now at the center of media and debates. Calling for unity and togetherness in the US which was strangled and left open to brutal oppression for a long period of time, her self penned poem came with a bang at the inauguration ceremony. Keeping aside her poetic identity, who is Amanda Gorman? There are some amazing facts you need to know about her that probably the world isn’t aware of.
1. Uncanny connection with Joe Biden
Joe Biden has long ago opened up about his weak side as a stutter when he was a kid. Having been bullied by his classmates and insulted by a Nun, he strenuously strives hard to overcome his speech impediment and became the oratory king that he is now.
This is where Amanda and Biden share an uncanny bond with each other. As a child even Amanda was overpowered by speech impediment. She explained to The Harvard Gazette in 2018 that she had an auditory disorder that caused her to “hear and process information differently than other people.”
In a January 2021 interview with NPR, she specified that her speech impediment included difficulty pronouncing certain letters of the alphabet, including the letter R. “I’d want to say ‘girls can change the world,’ but I cannot say so many letters in that statement, so I’d say things like ‘young women can shape the globe,’” she told NPR. “I would be in the bathroom scribbling five minutes before trying to figure out if I could say ‘Earth’ or if I can say ‘girl’ or if I can say ‘poetry.’ And you know, doing the best with the poem I could.”
However, she believes that this disorder was in fact a contributing factor which helped her to enhance her skills as a writer. “I don’t look at my disability as a weakness. 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.”
2. Gorman’s Inaugural Poem Is Titled ‘The Hill We Climb’
According to the Associated Press, Dr. Jill Biden nominated Gorman for the role. Despite her young age, Gorman is already a seasoned pro in this particular field. As soon as she set her foot on stage, each and every single soul watching the ceremony got their eyes struck at the charisma of the 22 year old singing her self written poem titled ‘The Hill We Climb’.
“When day comes, we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade?” her five-minute poem began.
She went on to reference the storming of the Capitol earlier this month.
“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy,” she declared.
“And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.”
In her poem, Gorman described herself as “a skinny black girl descended from slaves and raised by a single mother [who] can dream of becoming president, only to find her self reciting for one”.
It was a beautifully paced, well-judged poem for a special occasion, but it will live long beyond the time and space of the moment.
3. Won the title First National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017
This isn’t the ‘first time’ that Amanda Gorman is mustering a public achievement. The 22 year old was drawn to the public eye back in 2017, where she bagged the title ‘First National Youth Poet Laureate’.
Gorman has racked up a long list of accomplishments in her relatively short career thus far. At age 16, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. Three years later, at age 19, she was honored as the first National Youth Poet Laureate. She accepted the honor in a ceremony at the Gracie Mansion in New York City.
4. Exigent Upbringing and Revolutionary Career
Amanda Gorman, born in Los Angeles, was raised by a single mother, Joan Wicks, who worked as a middle school teacher. She has also got an older brother named Spencer and a twin sister named Gabrielle. Born and brought up by a single mother she says that she had experienced an internal struggle between “the social Amanda, who is excited and talks to people and engages, and then there is the poetic Amanda, who by necessity exists off the subsistence of a reclusive life.”
Following her mother’s footsteps she attended Harvard University. She studied sociology and graduated with the class of 2020.
5. Amanda, the host of PBS Special About Racism
As the youngest torch bearer of racial struggles, Amanda is celebrated as a published author who hosted a PBS Special about Racism. Her first book, The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough, was published by Penmanship Books in 2015, according to Poets.org.
Along with this Gorman has also written a children’s book called Change Sings. She explained on social media that she wants the book to serve as a “children’s anthem to remind young readers that they have the power to shape the world.”
Apart from this she has also tried her hand at TV hosting. She served as the host for a PBS Kids special about racism in October 2020. Gorman said that she feels adults should talk to children about race early on.
6. A Fireball of passion, A performer of true spirits
Her journey as a poet has its inception right from her childhood. As a prodigal representative of her community, Amanda used her words as a double headed sword to ward off the ostracization experienced by her community.
As a Youth poet Laureate, she mustered a golden opportunity to share a seat with Jenna Bush Hager for the Today show where she articulated about her poetry and the underlying aim that she aspired to uphold through her words. Gorman explained that her poetry focuses on social change and justice because she feels she has a duty to use her voice. “That passion comes from my heritage. It comes from this place where like, I must write. I must speak up because there have been too many people who’ve been kept from that opportunity.”
Gorman has already performed her poetry on major stages. In 2016, she was invited to the Obama White House as part of a celebration with other Youth Poet Laureates from around the country. Gorman later gushed to GirlBoss about what it was like to meet Michelle Obama.
Apart from this Gorman has also read her poetry in front of Lin-Manuel Miranda, Al Gore, Secretary Hillary Clinton, and Malala Yousafzai. She performed her poem “In This Place: An American Lyric” at the Library of Congress in 2017. She read her poem “The Gathering Place” at the 2017 Social Good Summit, which was put on by the United Nations.
Gorman has also performed her poetry multiple times for CBS This Morning. She recited her poem “The Miracle of Morning” for the morning news program as a hopeful message amid the coronavirus pandemic.