Gorman will be the sixth poet to read at an Inauguration Day

By Sean Neumann
January 15, 2021 06:28 PM
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Amanda Gorman
| Credit: Charley Gallay/Getty Images

Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, will join President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris by making history during next week's inaugural ceremony.

Gorman will be the youngest known poet in memory to speak at the swearing-in ceremony, according to the Associated Press. The Biden transition announced Thursday that the already-accomplished Harvard University grad is scheduled to do a five-minute reading.

"The poem isn't blind," Gorman told the AP, noting the poem she had been writing for Wednesday will also touch on last week's deadly riot in the U.S. Capitol building.

"It isn't turning your back to the evidence of discord and division," she said, though the poem will still focus on unity and hope — two points the Biden inaugural team asked the young poet to expand on.

Amanda Gorman
| Credit: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Amanda Gorman
| Credit: nbc

Gorman, who is also the country's first National Youth Poet Laureate, was handpicked by incoming First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. She'll be just the sixth poet to read a piece at the inauguration, according to the Academy of American Poets.

According to the literary organization, only three presidents have had a poet read at their swearing-in ceremony: President John F. Kennedy in 1961, President Bill Clinton in 1993 and 1997, and President Barack Obama 2009 and 2013. Gorman will add her name to that list, which includes Maya Angelou and Robert Frost.

Angelou's 1993 poem "On the Pulse of Morning," read at Clinton's first inauguration, went on to sell 1 million copies, according to the AP.

Richard Blanco, the poet who read "One Today" at Obama's 2013 inauguration, offered his congratulations to Gorman via Twitter.

"So proud of you," he wrote. "I cannot wait to watch you read your inaugural poem!"

Gorman added that she's "so honored to follow in [Blanco's] sizable footsteps."

Her poem will be titled "The Hill We Climb," Gorman told the AP, adding that last week's pro-Donald Trump mob at the Capitol had, in part, inspired her to finish the work.

"That day gave me a second wave of energy to finish the poem," Gorman said.