The United States ushered in a new administration this month after a chaotic 70+ days since the November election. I always make it a point to watch the Inauguration no matter who is being sworn into office as I find the tradition and symbolism provide a sense of unity and optimism. That was especially important to me now with the deep sense of divide in our country and an ongoing pandemic that has mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially exhausted so many.
For me, a highlight of this historic Inauguration was hearing National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, read her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” This incredibly poised young woman has a remarkable gift for writing, and her words and eloquent delivery of her poem captured the attention of the country. It was more a performance than just a reading. I was blown away, and so were many others as social media went into a frenzy wanting to know more about Ms. Gorman.
My first thought was to see if she had any published works available, and I found out she has two upcoming books, The Hill We Climb, and Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, both due for release in September 2021. Apparently, I was not the only one left wanting to hear more; the day after the Inauguration, the aforementioned books were #1 and #2, respectively, on Amazon’s best seller list as pre-orders.
I watched her interviews on the night of the Inauguration and the days that followed, and it was clear she has a brilliant mind that flows into her spoken and written words. What I found inspiring is that she had a speech impediment during childhood which made her fear speaking up; however, she said she had the realization, “If I choose not to speak out of fear, then there’s no one that my silence is standing for.”
Raised by a single mother, Amanda excelled at reading and writing, and went on to be named National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017. Last year, she graduated with honors from Harvard, and today, she is being lauded as a standout poet and activist, drawing comparisons to Maya Angelou. There is no doubt we will be seeing and hearing more of Ms. Gorman in the years to come.
If you missed it, watch her reading of her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” from the 2021 Inauguration.
For further inspiration, watch her 2018 TED talk, “Using your voice is a political choice.”