Amanda Gorman Defies Age and Climbs the Hill Anyway

The poet makes history as the youngest person to recite a poem at the presidential inauguration



Gorman cemented her place in the history books with her captivating performance but was sure to leave some space for her accomplishments to come.


“When day comes we ask ourselves, / where can we find light in this never-ending shade?”

That was the question that opened “The Hill We Climb,” the poem that Amanda Gorman wrote and recited at President Joe Biden’s inaugural ceremony. Though her inauguration appearance introduced her for the first time to most of the country, Gorman has been doing incredible things long before the ceremony. 

Gorman became the country’s first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017, two years after she published her first poetry book, “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough,” at only 15 years old. Since then, she’s only continued to stack up accomplishments.

Gorman founded a youth writing nonprofit, One Pen One Page, wrote a tribute to Black athletes for Nike, penned a two-book deal with Vikings Children Books and more. We would need an “Amanda Gorman Special Edition” paper to include every one of her accomplishments. 

“And then on the Wednesday in which we saw the insurrection at the Capitol, that was the day that the poem really came to life.” Amanda Gorman

Looking at all that Gorman has achieved, it’s easy to see why First Lady Jill Biden recommended her for the ceremony, making her the youngest person to recite a poem at the inauguration ceremony at just 22 years old.

Sticking with what seemed to be the theme of this inauguration, Gorman’s poem centered around the idea of uniting the divided nation. “We close the divide because we know, to put our future first, / we must first put our differences aside / We lay down our arms / so we can reach out our arms / to one another.” 

Gorman told CBS that she amended her poem following the insurrection of the Capitol. “And then on the Wednesday in which we saw the insurrection at the Capitol, that was the day that the poem really came to life,” Gorman said. “And I really put pedal to the metal.”

Maia Nuñez, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’22, the secretary of Lincoln Center’s creative writing publication The Comma, said that though she was not familiar with Gorman’s work before the inauguration, she loved her poem and looks forward to reading more of her work.

“I’m particularly impressed with the lines ‘And the norms and notions / of what just is / Isn’t always just-ice.’ I love the phonetic play and manipulation of the word ‘justice,’ especially when you consider the double meaning of the preceding line,” Nuñez said. “We’re simultaneously asked to define the word ‘just’ while also being forced to reckon with the general, but hurtful despondency of ‘…it just is.’ It’s very clever and it illustrates the reality of the U.S. as anything but a utopia, rather a messy and enduring work-in-progress.”

Following her recitation, both of Gorman’s upcoming books, “The Hill We Climb” and “Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem,” became bestsellers, despite not being slated for release until September 2021. Gorman signed to IMG Models and she recited a poem before the coin toss of Super Bowl LV. It’s clear that America loves Gorman and that we’ve definitely not seen the last of her. 

“It perpetuates the idea that anyone could do it.” Maia Nuñez, FCLC ’22, secretary of The Comma

“I can imagine the impact she has on young and aspiring BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) creators to see a celebrated Black poet receive acclaim,” Nuñez said. “It perpetuates the idea that anyone could do it.” She added that she hopes other young artists and writers can get the chance to receive recognition for their work like Gorman. 

One of the most impressive things about Gorman is just how confident in herself she is (as she should be). Gorman has never shied away from reciting on the biggest stages and using her poetry to address topics and issues that you may not expect from someone so young. She has repeatedly said that she intends to run for president one day, and based on her track record, I’m inclined to believe that she will not only run but give whoever runs against her a good race.