The breakout star of Wednesday’s Presidential Inauguration festivities was Amanda Gorman, who read her poem “The Hill We Climb.” Educators worked fast to create and share classroom teaching resources.
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. It includes a reference to the January 2021 Capital riots, which reads: “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.” Gorman’s 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 provided a lesson plan for students grade 6-12. The New York Times availed a robust teaching resource for teaching occasional poetry. Two new publications are forthcoming: Gorman’s debut children’s book, Change Sings, and a collection of poetry. She is also the founder of a non-profit organization focusing on youth writing and leadership called One Pen One Page. We here at WITS congratulate Ms. Gorman and can’t wait to read her books with our students and emerging poets!