Amanda Gorman, an award-winning Black female writer who is only twenty-two years old, has been selected to read at President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. Other famous poets including Robert Frost and Maya Angelou have read at presidential inaugurations in the past, but Gorman will be the youngest known poet to do so. According to Time Magazine, Biden’s inaugural committee reached out to her late last month regarding her involvement in the ceremony. Time also reports that it was Jill Biden who recommended to the young poet to the committee in the first place.
Gorman has had quite the successful writing career since graduating from Harvard University, which was detailed by Time:
In 2014, she was named the first Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles, and three years later she became the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate. She has appeared on MTV; written a tribute to Black athletes for Nike; published her first book, “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough,” as a teenager, and has a two-book deal with Viking Children’s Books. The first work, the picture book “Change Sings,” comes out later this year.
President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration will take place on Wednesday, January 20th and, according to USA Today, will include performances from Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, Ant Clemons, Bruce Springsteen, John Legend, and the Foo Fighters. Surely Gorman will shine brightly alongside these stars, as she is no rookie to writing for professional occasions such as this one. According to Time, she has also written for a July 4th celebration featuring the Boston Orchestra and for the inauguration of Harvard President Larry Bacow.
Gorman stated that she will not release any previews or excerpts of her poem, although Time reports:
Gorman says she was not given specific instructions on what to write, but was encouraged to emphasize unity and hope over “denigrating anyone” or declaring “ding, dong, the witch is dead” over the departure of President Donald Trump.
Regarding the siege of Capitol Hill that occurred last week:
“That day gave me a second wave of energy to finish the poem,” says Gorman, adding that she will not refer directly to Jan. 6, but will “touch” upon it. She said last week’s events did not upend the poem she had been working on because they didn’t surprise her.
“The poem isn’t blind,” she says. “It isn’t turning your back to the evidence of discord and division.” (Time)
We can say for certain that next week’s inauguration will make history for more reason than one and we are looking forward to the festivities.