Tuesday, 28 June, 2022
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Who is Amanda Gorman, 22-year-old poet at Biden’s inauguration everyone is talking about

Gorman, who followed in the footsteps of poets Maya Angelou and Robert Frost, has a speech impediment and presidential dreams, just like US President Joe Biden.

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New Delhi: The image of Senator Bernie Sanders at the US presidential inauguration, sitting wrapped up on a chair with his hands in mitts, might have caught the world’s imagination but it was a 22-year-old poet, dressed in a bright yellow pant-suit, who captivated the world.

Amanda Gorman became an overnight star for her narration of her poem titled ‘The Hill We Climb’.

Here’s an excerpt from it:

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

Her powerful words, delivered emphatically, appeared to have deeply resonated not just with Americans but also the world, given the occasion.

The inauguration ceremony in itself was rather momentous, by virtue of it marking the end of a divisive Trump presidency that roiled both US and global politics. It was held Thursday at the Capitol, the building that was stormed by mobs of Donald Trump supporters just a fortnight ago. Five people had died in the riot.

The inauguration was themed ‘America United’, and had performances from Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, both celebrities who had endorsed Biden’s presidency bid.

But it wasn’t the pop stars, the newly sworn-in President Joe Biden’s centuries-old Bible nor Vice President Kamala Harris’ outfit that was most talked about. It was Gorman.

Gorman, who also happens to be the youngest inaugural poet in US history, received a lot of praise from all quarters, so much so that her books climbed to the top of Amazon’s best seller’s list shortly after her recitation.

Also read: US President Biden had a ‘normal’ inauguration, but it really wasn’t normal

Poet with a speech impediment & presidential dreams

Amanda Gorman was born in Los Angeles in 1998, and raised by a single mother who is a teacher. Like Biden, she suffers from a speech impediment.

In 2014, aged 16, she became her state’s youth poet laureate, and then America’s first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, when she was 19.

It was First Lady Jill Biden, a fan of Gorman’s work, who convinced the inaugural committee to have the young woman on board for the ceremony.

Gorman is currently studying sociology at Harvard University. Gorman’s recitation follows in the footsteps of celebrated American poets such as Maya Angelou, who read at Bill Clinton’s first presidential inauguration in 1993, and Robert Frost who read at John. F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961. Frost was the first inaugural poet.

Gorman said Pakistani Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai was an inspiration to her. After becoming the Los Angeles poet laureate in 2016, she published her first poetry collection titled ‘The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough’. Her poetry largely follows the themes of racism and social injustice.

While Thursday’s inauguration was her first mega event, she has in the past performed to an impressive audience that have included Al Gore, Hillary Clinton and Yousafzai herself, to name a few.

Gorman said she will run for president in 2036 and has already received former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s blessings.

Also read: Joe Biden sworn in as 46th US President to lead nation wracked by Covid, unemployment


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