Inauguration poet felt ‘enormous responsibility’ to reflect on US Capitol riots

Young poet laureate Amanda Gorman has said she felt an “enormous responsibility” to reflect on the violent US Capitol riots in her six-minute poem for the presidential inauguration.

The 22-year-old Harvard graduate took the world by storm with an electric reading of her poem entitled The Hill We Climb as new president Joe Biden was sworn in on Wednesday.

Speaking to NBC News’ Lester Holt following the inauguration, Ms Gorman said she knew she had to reference the 6 January events in order to “re-purify” the idea of the United States.

She said: “I had around three minutes of the six minute poem done when the 6 January event occurred, and it was kind of like a bombshell went off in my brain.”

AP PIC: American poet Amanda Gorman reads a poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Image:American poet Amanda Gorman reads her poem during the 59th presidential inauguration

She added: “On the one hand there was this moment of horror and disgust of what was happening, but then I felt an enormous responsibility to say ‘okay, this is occurring, what am I going to do about it?’

“And even more importantly, ‘what am I going to write?'”

Ms Gorman, who woke up a superstar on Thursday and topped Amazon’s best seller list for her debut poetry collection, continued: “I definitely tried to weave through that type of understanding and reconciliation with this event in the poem, that is to say that I wanted to use the words to re-sanctify a space and a building that had been violated.

More from Joe Biden

  • COVID-19: US president Joe Biden signs 10 executive orders to curb spread of coronavirus

  • Number 10 refuses to criticise Joe Biden for removing Churchill bust – despite PM’s disapproval of same move by Obama

  • Celebrating the brave new world of ‘truthful and transparent’ presidential press conferences

  • Doug Emhoff: America’s first second gentleman is a trailblazer devoted to his wife, her causes and career

  • Joe Biden stamps own mark on new-look Oval Office – and there’s no sign of Britain’s most famous PM

  • Celebrating America: Nine best bits from Joe Biden’s star-studded inauguration special

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Police break their silence on Capitol riots

“I wanted to use my words to kind of re-purify this idea of the United States, which we had seen so tainted via violence.”

Ms Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in US history to mark the transition of presidential power, joining the likes of a very select few before her including Robert Frost and Maya Angelou, offered a hopeful vision for a deeply divided America on Wednesday.

AMANDA GORMAN
Image:Amanda Gorman wowed the wold with her inauguration poem

“Being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it,” Ms Gorman said on the Capitol steps just two weeks after a mob laid siege and following a year of global protests for racial justice.

“We will not march back to what was. We move to what shall be, a country that is bruised, but whole. Benevolent, but bold. Fierce and free.”

Her performance won instant acclaim from people across the country and political spectrum, from the Republican-backing Lincoln Project to former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

Jan 20, 2021; Washington, DC, USA; Poet Amanda Gorman during the 2021 Presidential Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY/Sipa USA. AP PIC
Image:Ms Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in US history

Former first lady and US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Wasn’t @TheAmandaGorman’s poem just stunning? She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait.”

TV host Oprah Winfrey also applauded her, tweeting: “I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering-and so am I”.

The recent university graduate, who has seen her social media following boom since inauguration day, says she overcame a speech impediment in her youth, before becoming the first US National Poet Laureate in 2017.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *