US Politics

Who is Amanda Gorman, the young poet who stole the show at Joe Biden's inauguration?

American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. Source: AP Pool

The 22-year-old poet followed in the footsteps of poets like Maya Angelou by reading at a presidential inauguration.

Amanda Gorman has become the youngest ever poet to recite at a presidential inauguration in the United States, after delivering her powerful poem 'The Hill We Climb' at Joe Biden's ceremony early on Thursday. 

The 22-year-old from Los Angeles became just the sixth poet to recite at an inauguration ceremony, following in the footsteps of Maya Angelou and Robert Frost. 

"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," Ms Gorman said during her recital.

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Her poem struck an optimistic tone on the back of violent riots and racial injustice in the United States, as well as the coronavirus pandemic.

"When day comes, we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it," she said.

Ms Gorman became the first ever national youth poet laureate in 2017. 

Ms Gorman gave the recital after First Lady Jill Biden saw one of her readings given at the Library of Congress in 2017 and invited her to participate at the Capitol steps.

Her performance touched on the themes of national unity and healing of divisions which were present throughout the inauguration. 

Ms Gorman's piece alluded to the Capitol Hill riots at the violence that engulfed Washington DC earlier this month. 

“I wasn’t trying to write something in which those events were painted as an irregularity or different from an America that I know,” she told the Los Angeles Times.

“America is messy. It’s still in its early development of all that we can become. And I have to recognise that in the poem. I can’t ignore that or erase it. And so, I crafted an inaugural poem that recognises these scars and these wounds. Hopefully, it will move us toward healing them.”

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