NEW YORK (IDN) – Amanda S. C. Gorman is an American poet and activist from Los Angeles. Her work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. She was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. She published the poetry book “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough” in 2015. In 2021, she delivered her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of Joe Biden.
Gorman was born in Los Angeles in 1998 and was raised by her mother, a teacher named Joan Wicks, with her two siblings. She has a twin sister, Gabrielle, who is an activist and filmmaker. Gorman has said she grew up in an environment with limited television access. She has described her young self as a “weird child” who enjoyed reading and writing and was encouraged by her mother.
Gorman, the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration in United States history, performed at President Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, 2021. The President’s wife, Jill Biden, recommended her for the inauguration. After January 6, 2021, Gorman amended her poem’s wording to address the storming of the United States Capitol.
During the week before the inauguration, Gorman told The Washington Post book critic Ron Charles, “My hope is that my poem will represent a moment of unity for our country,” and that “with my words, I’ll be able to speak to a new chapter and era for our nation.”
Soon after Gorman’s performance at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, her two upcoming books, a poetry collection titled “The Hill We Climb” and a project for youth titled “Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem”, were at the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. Both books are scheduled to be released in September 2021.
The following is the text of the poem, “The Hill We Climb”.
When day comes, we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast.
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace.
And the norms and notions
of what just is, isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it.
Somehow we do it.
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken,
but simply unfinished.
We, the successors of a country and a time
where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes, we are far from polished,
far from pristine,
but that doesn’t mean
we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country, committed to all cultures, colors, characters, and conditions of man.
And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
Photo: Gorman reading her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration of Joe Biden in 2021. Source: Chris Coons | Wikimedia Commons.
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