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Amanda Gorman, 22, becomes youngest inaugural poet with her reading of ‘The Hill We Climb’

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amanda gorman 22 becomes youngest inaugural poet with her reading of the hill we climb

Amanda Gorman made history as the youngest inaugural poet in US history with her reading of the moving poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ at Joe Biden‘s swearing-in ceremony Wednesday.

Gorman, a 22-year-old from Los Angeles who grew up with a speech impediment, was invited late last month to recite a poem by Jill Biden

In the powerful piece she called for unity and strength, especially in the wake of the January 6 Capitol riot, saying ‘But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated.’ 

‘So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with,’ she recited, urging Americans to choose peace. 

The young poet revealed she wrote a few lines a day and finished her piece writing late into the night of January 6, hours after a mob of frenzied Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building in a jarring attack that shocked the nation.

Amanda Gorman, 22, made history as the youngest inaugural poet in US history with her reading of her moving poem 'The Hill We Climb' at Joe Biden's swearing-in ceremony Wednesday

Amanda Gorman, 22, made history as the youngest inaugural poet in US history with her reading of her moving poem 'The Hill We Climb' at Joe Biden's swearing-in ceremony Wednesday

Amanda Gorman, 22, made history as the youngest inaugural poet in US history with her reading of her moving poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ at Joe Biden’s swearing-in ceremony Wednesday

The young poet revealed she wrote a few lines a day and finished her piece writing late into the night of January 6, hours after a mob of frenzied Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building in a jarring attack that shocked the nation. Pictured next to President Joe Biden

The young poet revealed she wrote a few lines a day and finished her piece writing late into the night of January 6, hours after a mob of frenzied Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building in a jarring attack that shocked the nation. Pictured next to President Joe Biden

The young poet revealed she wrote a few lines a day and finished her piece writing late into the night of January 6, hours after a mob of frenzied Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building in a jarring attack that shocked the nation. Pictured next to President Joe Biden 

'And then on the Wednesday in which we saw the insurrection at the Capitol, that was the day that the poem really came to life. And I really put pedal to the metal,' Gorman said. A view of the January 6 Capitol riot above

'And then on the Wednesday in which we saw the insurrection at the Capitol, that was the day that the poem really came to life. And I really put pedal to the metal,' Gorman said. A view of the January 6 Capitol riot above

‘And then on the Wednesday in which we saw the insurrection at the Capitol, that was the day that the poem really came to life. And I really put pedal to the metal,’ Gorman said. A view of the January 6 Capitol riot above

‘It’s amazing… Especially at my age. No one really gets to say, “At 22, I am the inaugural poet,”‘ she said to CBS This Morning before her performance.

She said that to prepare her poem she researched speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, but the January 6 violent Capitol siege is what moved her to finish the piece.

‘And then on the Wednesday in which we saw the insurrection at the Capitol, that was the day that the poem really came to life. And I really put pedal to the metal,’ Gorman said.

‘I wanted it to be a message of hope and unity. And I think that Wednesday for me really just underscored how much that was needed. But to not turn a blind eye to the cracks that really need to be filled,’ she said.

In her poem Gorman referenced everything from Biblical scripture and ‘Hamilton,’ and at times echoed the oratory of John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 

In a powerful section she said: ‘We did not feel prepared to be the heirs. Of such a terrifying hour. But within it we’ve found the power. To author a new chapter. To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.’

It was an extraordinary task for Gorman, the youngest by far of the poets who have read at presidential inaugurations since Kennedy invited Robert Frost in 1961, with other predecessors including Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander. 

Prior to Forman, Richard Blanco, who read the poem ‘One Today’ in 2013 for Barack Obama’s inauguration was the youngest known inaugural poet at the age of 45.  

Mindful of the past, she wore earrings and a caged bird ring – a tribute to Angelou’s classic memoir ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ – given to her by Oprah Winfrey, a close friend of the late writer.

'I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering-and so am I,' Winfrey tweeted

'I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering-and so am I,' Winfrey tweeted

‘I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering-and so am I,’ Winfrey tweeted

Gorman was also praised by 'Hamilton' playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, who tweeted 'YES @TheAmandaGorman!!!' Gorman, soon responded: 'Thx @Lin_Manuel! Did you catch the 2 @HamiltonMusical references in the inaugural poem? I couldn't help myself!'

Gorman was also praised by 'Hamilton' playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, who tweeted 'YES @TheAmandaGorman!!!' Gorman, soon responded: 'Thx @Lin_Manuel! Did you catch the 2 @HamiltonMusical references in the inaugural poem? I couldn't help myself!'

Gorman was also praised by ‘Hamilton’ playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, who tweeted ‘YES @TheAmandaGorman!!!’ Gorman, soon responded: ‘Thx @Lin_Manuel! Did you catch the 2 @HamiltonMusical references in the inaugural poem? I couldn’t help myself!’

In her poem Gorman referenced everything from Biblical scripture and 'Hamilton,' and at times echoed the oratory of John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In a powerful section she said: 'We did not feel prepared to be the heirs / Of such a terrifying hour / But within it we've found the power / To author a new chapter / To offer hope and laughter to ourselves'

In her poem Gorman referenced everything from Biblical scripture and 'Hamilton,' and at times echoed the oratory of John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In a powerful section she said: 'We did not feel prepared to be the heirs / Of such a terrifying hour / But within it we've found the power / To author a new chapter / To offer hope and laughter to ourselves'

In her poem Gorman referenced everything from Biblical scripture and ‘Hamilton,’ and at times echoed the oratory of John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In a powerful section she said: ‘We did not feel prepared to be the heirs / Of such a terrifying hour / But within it we’ve found the power / To author a new chapter / To offer hope and laughter to ourselves’

‘I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering-and so am I,’ Winfrey tweeted. 

Gorman was also praised by ‘Hamilton’ playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda, who tweeted ‘YES @TheAmandaGorman!!!’

Gorman, soon responded: ‘Thx @Lin_Manuel! Did you catch the 2 @HamiltonMusical references in the inaugural poem? I couldn’t help myself!’ 

Among the ‘Hamilton’ inspirations in her poem: ‘History has its eyes on us,’ a variation of the ‘Hamilton’ song ‘History Has Its Eyes On You.’

Gorman was raised in LA by her single mother who worked as a 6th grade English teacher. She grew up with a speech impediment as a child. President Joe Biden did as well.

‘It’s made me the performer that I am and the storyteller that I strive to be,’ she said to the Los Angeles Times.

‘When you have to teach yourself how to say sounds [and] be highly concerned about pronunciation, it gives you a certain awareness of sonics, of the auditory experience,’ she added.

She said that her impediment encouraged her to express herself in words. 

Gorman became Los Angeles' Youth Poet Laureate at the age of 16. Three years later at the age of 19 she became the first National Youth Poet Laureate while studying sociology at Harvard University. In 2015 she published her first book The One for Whom Food is Not Enough and is planning to publish a picture book entitled Change Sings later this year

Gorman became Los Angeles' Youth Poet Laureate at the age of 16. Three years later at the age of 19 she became the first National Youth Poet Laureate while studying sociology at Harvard University. In 2015 she published her first book The One for Whom Food is Not Enough and is planning to publish a picture book entitled Change Sings later this year

Gorman became Los Angeles’ Youth Poet Laureate at the age of 16. Three years later at the age of 19 she became the first National Youth Poet Laureate while studying sociology at Harvard University. In 2015 she published her first book The One for Whom Food is Not Enough and is planning to publish a picture book entitled Change Sings later this year

‘I had a speech impediment. And so I couldn’t use my voice, then I would author my voice on the page. So it’s really been a godsend and a lifeline for me,’ she said to CBS. 

‘And so once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, “you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me. I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.” That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment,’ she added. 

Gorman became Los Angeles’ Youth Poet Laureate at the age of 16.

Three years later at the age of 19 she became the first National Youth Poet Laureate while studying sociology at Harvard University.

In 2015 she published her first book The One for Whom Food is Not Enough and is planning to publish a picture book entitled Change Sings later this year.

Amanda Gorman’s Inaugural Poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ in full 

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world, 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 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 justice. And yet the dawn is hours 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 gazes 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.

We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another. We seek harm to none and harmony for all. Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true, that even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped.

That even as we tired, we tried. That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious, not because we will never again know defeat, but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid.

If we’re to live up to our own time, then victory won’t lighten the blade, but in all the bridges we’ve made, that is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare, it’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we stepped into and how we repair it.

We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy.

And this effort very nearly succeeded. But while democracy can be periodically delayed, it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith, we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us.

This is the era of just redemption. We feared at its inception. We did not feel prepared to be the heirs of such a terrifying hour, but within it we found the power to author a new chapter, to offer hope and laughter to ourselves.

So, while once we asked, ‘how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?’, now we assert, ‘how could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?’ We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be, a country that is bruised but whole, benevolent but bold, fierce and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation.

Because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain. If we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy, and change, our children’s birth right.

So let us leave behind a country better than one we were left with, every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one. We will rise through the gold-limbed hills of the west, we will rise from the windswept northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South.

We will rebuild, reconcile, and recover, in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country, our people diverse and beautiful, will emerge battered and beautiful. 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.

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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