At 22, Amanda Gorman is youngest inauguration poet ever | Sunday Observer

At 22, Amanda Gorman is youngest inauguration poet ever

28 February, 2021

This year’s US presidential and vice presidential inauguration made history in more ways than one: 22-year-old Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in history on Wednesday, sharing her work The Hill We Climb with the world.


She performed the poem on Wednesday, January 20, clad in gorgeous Prada. Her words were emotive and powerful: “We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace … We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy … So let us leave behind a country better than the one we were left with … we’ll raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.”

The inauguration ceremony of President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris was unlike any other. Unlike past outdoor ceremonies with large crowds and festivities, this year’s inauguration was largely virtual, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Additionally, a recent Pro-Trump attack on the Capitol put a spotlight on the day, with increased security concerns and heightened restrictions.


Despite those changes, the inauguration featured contributions from several different artistes, including Lady Gaga, who sang the National Anthem. And now, poet Amanda Gorman marked her own moment in history.

“I’m deeply humbled to be taking part in such a historic moment,” Amanda told Teen Vogue about the history-making moment. “It’s an honour not only to be the youngest inaugural poet but to be a participant in an inauguration that symbolises much-needed change, as embodied by President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris.”

Only three other presidents have chosen to feature an inaugural poem during their swearing in ceremony, Poets.Org notes, an honour that’s been given to poets including Maya Angelou and Robert Frost. According to The New York Times, Amanda was chosen after Jill Biden saw one of her readings. After the Biden team contacted her about sharing a poem, Amanda started her research, looking at the work of past inaugural poets, as well as readings from Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglas’sNPR notes.

Speaking with The New York Times, Amanda detailed how she had already started writing her poem prior to the January 6 events at the Capitol. She was reportedly halfway done with her poem, but after watching what happened in Washington D.C., she made some changes, telling NPR, “I was like, “Well, this is something we need to talk about.”


That night, she finished her poem, adding the lines, “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.”

She acknowledged that she wished for her poem to spur self-reflection, telling The New York Times, “I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years. But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal. It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with.”

Looking ahead to the future, and what comes with this new presidential chapter, Amanda told The New York Times, “We have to confront these realities if we’re going to move forward, so that’s also an important touchstone of the poem. There is space for grief and horror and hope and unity, and I also hope that there is a breath for joy in the poem, because I do think we have a lot to celebrate at this inauguration.”