January 20, 2021, is a date that'll go down in history books—Americans are finally getting rid of President T***p in the White House to make way for a new administration, one where Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will hopefully restore unity to America. And as a lovely bonus, Americans also get a supremely talented young poet reciting an original piece at the inauguration: National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman.
At just 22 years old, Amanda will be taking the stage at Biden and Harris's inauguration with her original poem “The Hill We Climb.” It's time you get to know Amanda—and see why Dr. Jill Biden counts herself as a big fan—ahead of the moment in Washington, D.C. Learn what you need to know about Amanda before she takes the stage, below.[instagram]https://www.instagram.com/p/CKCZOSjF_6M/?utm_source=ig_embed&utm_campaign=loading[/instagram]
Amanda is the first *ever* national youth poet laureate.
At the mere age of 16, Amanda managed to secure the coveted title of Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles (for some contrast, I was begging Niall Horan to follow me on Twitter at that age 🌚). Three years later at age 19, she became the first National Youth Poet Laureate too.
Her public speaking career started early.
When Amanda was in second grade, she decided to perform a monologue in which she assumed the voice of Chief Osceola of Florida’s Seminole tribe. Question: Who's doing it like this girl??? (No one, the answer is no one.)
“I’m sure anyone who saw it was kind of aghast at this 15-pound Black girl who was pretending to die onstage as a Native American chief,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “But I think it was important in my development because I really wanted to do justice to the story and bring it to life. It was the first time that I really leaned into the performance of text.”
She sometimes pronounces things differently.
Amanda has been open about struggling to pronounce the letter “r” sometimes, but it doesn't stop her from doing what she loves at all—in fact, it allows her to be more in tune with her work. In her L.A. Times profile, she said the difficulty with pronouncing the letter has made her “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.”
She graduated from Harvard University.
In undergrad, Amanda studied
literature sociology…which makes total sense because a lot of her poems touch upon themes of race, varying economic backgrounds, feminism, and African culture.
She wants to run for president…in 2036.
Amanda is setting her goals high—when she's old enough, she wants to run for president of the United States in 2036. And yes, Kamala Harris has totally inspired her to do so.
“There’s no denying that a victory for her is a victory for all of us who would like to see ourselves represented as women of color in office,” she said. “It makes it more imaginable. Once little girls can see it, little girls can be it. Because they can be anything that they want, but that representation to make the dream exist in the first place is huge—even for me.”
She wrote part of her inauguration poem following the U.S. Capitol breach.
Although Amanda felt like the scenes from the pro-Trump Capitol riots were "jarring and violent," she also felt it was important to include the moment in her inauguration poem because it's a major moment in America's history.
“I wasn’t trying to write something in which those events were painted as an irregularity or different from an America that I know,” Amanda told the L.A. Times. “America is messy. It’s still in its early development of all that we can become. And I have to recognize that in the poem. I can’t ignore that or erase it. And so I crafted an inaugural poem that recognizes these scars and these wounds. Hopefully, it will move us toward healing them.”