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"It informs my poetry and I think it made me all that much stronger of a writer," Amanda Gorman tells Oprah Winfrey in a new episode of The Oprah Conversation

By Joelle Goldstein
March 25, 2021 08:00 AM
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Amanda Gorman feels nothing but pride when she looks back on how far she's come.

In a new episode of Apple TV+'s The Oprah Conversation, Gorman sits down with Oprah Winfrey to reflect on her life and her rise to fame since reading her poem "The Hill We Climb" at the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

"Amanda Gorman is a young woman who stepped into a moment in history with enormous grace and dignity," Winfrey, 67, says in a statement. "I was enthralled by her youthful spirit from the first moment we met, and very much looked forward to hearing her unpack all that has happened to her the past few months."

During the interview, Gorman, 23, opens up about being diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder and speech impediment as a child and explains how it shaped her life.

"I was born early, along with my twin, and a lot of times, for infants, that can lead to learning delays," she tells Winfrey in the above Apple TV+ clip provided to PEOPLE. "One of my delays was in speech and speech pronunciation, and also the auditory processing issue just means I really struggle as an auditory learner."

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Amanda Gorman
| Credit: Courtesy Apple

Gorman says she experienced difficulty learning certain sounds, such as "sh" or "r" — both ones that her peers had already mastered.

"Specifically 'r' because it is one of the most complex letters in the English alphabet," she notes. "That was something that I would struggle with until probably 20 years of age."

"When you have a last name like Gorman, when you are writing poetry — all of the things that constitute my identity — when you go to a school like Harvard, which has two [of the letter r] in it, it leads to all these kinds of roadblocks," she continues.

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Oprah Winfrey and Amanda Gorman
| Credit: Courtesy Apple
Amanda Gorman
National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman speaks at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden
| Credit: Rob Carr/Getty

Despite facing those challenges, Gorman says she doesn't view them as a "weakness or disability," but rather "one of my greatest strengths."

"I'm really grateful for that experience because it informs my poetry," she tells Winfrey. "I think it made me all that much stronger of a writer when you have to teach yourself how to say words from scratch. When you are learning through poetry how to speak English, it lends to a great understanding of sound, of pitch, of pronunciation, so I think of my speech impediment not as a weakness or a disability, but as one of my greatest strengths."

RELATED VIDEO: Oprah Gave Poet Amanda Gorman, 22, Earrings and a Caged Bird Ring to Wear on Inauguration Day

Since delivering her poem at January's presidential inauguration — where she wore a pair of earrings and a caged bird-shaped ring, both gifts from Winfrey — Gorman's career has taken off.

She's been signed to IMG Models, had her forthcoming books hit the top of Amazon's chart before they were published, read a poem at the Super Bowl and even declared her interest in running for president in 2036.

"When I was at Harvard, I thought I would have to go down this kind of more orthodox path of 'Okay, so I'll go to law school and then maybe I'll run for local public office,'" Gorman recently told PEOPLE for the Women Changing the World issue. "Now I realized that perhaps my path will be a different one, that it might be performing my poetry and touching people that way, and then entering public office from a platform that was built off of my beliefs and thoughts and ideas."

The Oprah Conversation featuring Amanda Gorman premieres on Friday, March 26 on Apple TV+.

More episodes of The Oprah Conversation are available now alongside Oprah Talks COVID-19 and Oprah's Book Club on Apple TV+.