Who is Amanda Gorman – the young poet who captivated America during Biden’s inauguration?

Amanda Gorman, the first-ever US National Youth Poet Laureate, was the youngest poet to ever read at a presidential inauguration.

The 22-year-old recited her poem The Hill We Climb, with the apt line: “While democracy can be permanently delayed, it can never be permanently denied.”

Her prose summoned images both dire and triumphant – as she told Americans watching at home: “Even as we grieved, we grew.”

Ms Gorman referenced everything from Biblical scripture to Hamilton, and at times echoed the oratory of John F Kennedy and the Rev Martin Luther King Jr.

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AP PIC: Amanda Gorman recites a poem during Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Washington. (Jonathan Ernst/Pool Photo via AP)
Image:Her gritty, honest, and moving poem was one of inauguration’s most talked about moments. Pic: AP

But who is she… and what is her story?

Ms Gorman, who is from Los Angeles, describes herself to her 800,000 Instagram followers as a “poet, writer and dreamer”.

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She says she plans to run for president in 2036.

As a child she battled a speech impediment, but the poet spoke with power, clarity and poise on the steps of the US Capitol on Wednesday – just two weeks after a violent mob laid siege to the seat of America’s government with Confederate flags, pipe bombs and a noose.

In her address, she told the nation, and the world, that Americans could rise above the hatred.

She said: “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.”

Amanda Gorman US poet Laureate who performed at President Joe Biden's inauguration. PIC: Amanda Gorman Instagram
Image:How she told the world she’d been chosen for inauguration. Pic: Amanda Gorman Instagram

Raised by her mother, a teacher named Joan Wicks, she has two siblings, including a twin sister who is an activist.

From school in Santa Monica, she went to Harvard and studied sociology.

She was inspired by her studies to become a youth delegate for the United Nations in 2013, after watching a speech by Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai – and a year later, was chosen as the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles.

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Image:Standing shoulder to shoulder with celebrities like Lady Gaga

In 2017, she then took the national crown, being named the first US National Youth Poet Laureate.

She became the first youth poet to open the literary season for the Library of Congress, and she has read her poetry on MTV.

It was at the Library of Congress that Ms Gorman caught the eye of Dr Jill Biden, who asked her to write an original poem for her husband’s swearing-in ceremony.

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:Gorman’s work focuses on oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization. Pic: AP

She wrote one piece – and then after the Capitol riots earlier this month, she altered it to include the events because of their huge social and political significance.

Ms Gorman’s art and activism focus on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora.

In one interview she described her upbringing “at this incredibly odd intersection in Los Angeles, where it felt like the black ‘hood met black elegance met white gentrification met Latin culture met wetlands.

“Traversing between these worlds, either to go to a private school in Malibu, or then come back home to my family’s two-bedroom apartment, gave me an appreciation for different cultures and realities, but also made me feel like an outsider.”

She joined the ranks of previous inaugural poets Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander, with her powerful performance at Wednesday’s inauguration.

Mark Gibson

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

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