Amanda Gorman: Poetry Of the People, By the People, and For the People


Amanda Gorman captured Americans’ hearts and minds with her six-minute-long reading of her original poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Biden’s Inauguration.

Arianna Hoyos, Staff Writer

With the oldest president to be elected and the first female, Black, and South Asian vice president to be elected, the Jan. 20 Inauguration was brimming with meaningful moments that marked a new page in history for the United States. Among these notable milestones is Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in American history.

The 22-year-old Harvard graduate delivered her poem titled “The Hill We Climb” to president-elect Joe Biden and the audience in Washington District of Columbia. Gorman’s poem has a clear and resonating message meant to impact the American people. The young speaker called for unity, hope and healing. Her words echoed the meaning of opportunity in America and the start of a new day with Joe Biden as the 46th president.

The writer had been working on the piece for quite some time. Her preparation was extensive as she wanted to capture every one of her thoughts in the work. Gorman finished composing her poem following the riots at Capitol Hill on Jan. 6. It was vital that her call for unity was heard by her audience of citizens after the protests occurred. Gorman explained in an interview with The New York Times that what she “really [aspires] to do in the poem is to be able to use [her] words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal.”

“Gorman’s speech was stunning! Her words really moved me and it is so inspirational to see such a young woman recite in front of a president. Gorman’s message was clear and impactful, and she truly stood out among all the other inaugural speakers,” sophomore Julie Maldonado said.

For the rhetorician, it was not her first time performing in front of government leaders. The advocate had previously recited a poem at the Library of Congress, which is where she caught First Lady Jill Biden’s attention. In 2017, Gorman became the first National Youth Poet Laureate. She is also currently working on publishing a children’s book filled with short poems.

Gorman has an auditory processing disorder, as well as a speech impediment. While Gorman’s impairments did pose a challenge to her presentation, the poet explains that she practiced the speech over and over to ensure that her verses would flow smoothly. Her impediment is not unlike that of President Joe Biden, as he has also overcome a stuttering problem.

Gorman started off her poem by asking her audience “where can we find light?” She later introduced herself as a “skinny Black girl” who descended from slaves and was raised by a single mother yet she still had dreams of becoming a president and now found herself reciting in front of one. These are just a few of the memorable lines in her speech. Gorman details that “even as we grieved, we grew/ That even as we hurt we hoped./ That even as we tired, we tried…”. Her verses set the tone for the rest of the inauguration as other speakers highlighted the importance of moving past obstacles and coming together as one to create a stronger country.

“Amanda Gorman added another voice besides Joe Biden for the nation. She truly united the nation and gave citizens a new hope for the next presidency. The fact that she was a young poet also added to the new movement of children and young adults being deeply involved in politics and social issues,” sophomore Austin Yagoda said.

Along with her striking yellow blazer, Gorman’s emphasis of a united America also caught the audience’s attention. Her declaration that the United States is not broken, but “simply unfinished,” was one of the important messages she hoped to impart among the audience.

To end her speech, Gorman answered her original question as to where people can find light. Her answer and final verse moved citizens everywhere; she explained “for there is always light/ if only we are brave enough to see it/ If only we are brave enough to be it.”

Click here to watch Amanda Gorman recite her poem at the Inauguration.