The breakout star of Wednesday’s inaugural festivities was Amanda Gorman, with a reading of her poem “The Hill We Climb.” Gorman was the first National Youth Poet Laureate, an honor she earned back in 2017. The 22 year old Harvard alumna is now the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. The poem is about national unity, and does not shy from tough recent topics, including a reference to the recent Capital riots: “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.” Her literary mantra is “I am the daughter of Black writers, who are descended from Freedom Fighters, who broke the chains who changed the world. They call me.” You can watch a video of her reading here, and read a transcript of the poem here.
The poem is already a popular teaching tool. PBS has provided a lesson plan for students grade 6-12, and the New York Times has also availed a robust teaching resource. Gorman has two publications forthcoming; her debut children’s book, Change Sings, and a collection of poetry will be released this September. She is also the founder of a non-profit organization called One Pen One Page, which focuses on youth writing and leadership. We here at WITS congratulate Ms. Gorman and can’t wait to read her books with our students and emerging poets!