The young poet Amanda Gorman caused a sensation on Wednesday January 20, 2021 during the inauguration ceremony of US President Joe Biden. At 22, she confidently read from the rostrum a long poem of her own composition, The Hill We Climb (The hill that we climb), becoming the youngest poet in U.S. history to speak at an inaugural ceremony.
Dressed in a solar outfit, a yellow coat and a red headband, accompanying her verses with graceful hand gestures, she intervened for six minutes just after the first presidential speech of the new tenant of the White House delivered on the steps of the Capitol.
It was the president’s wife, Jill Biden, who blew up the idea for this invitation to the presidential team after attending a reading by the young militant poet, whose work regularly questions oppression, racism and gender discrimination. The inaugural committee of the 46th President of the United States contacted her in December, suggesting that she insist on “unity and hope“echoing the Democrat’s inaugural speech.
In early January, struggling under the load and the stakes, Amanda Gorman was halfway through the writing of her poem when supporters of Donald Trump stormed the Capitol on January 6, report it New York Times. She stayed awake until late that night and finished her poem in one go, adding verses inspired by her vision of doomsday scenes that have been around the world.
“We saw a force that would destroy our democracy rather than share it, that would demolish our country if this destruction were to delay democracy, and the attempt was almost successful. “, says his poem chanted on Wednesday January 20. “But while democracy can be delayed, it cannot be done away with. In this truth, in this faith, we believe. Because if our gaze is turned towards the future, History has its on us.“
Born in Los Angeles in 1998, Amanda Gorman was raised with her twin by a single mother who was a college English teacher. She also briefly slipped her self-portrait into her text, evoking “a country and a time when a skinny young black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother, can dream of becoming president, before finding herself reciting for one of them.“Indeed, the young speaker does not hide her presidential ambitions.”In 2036, I will be applying to become President of the United States“, she assured in 2017 in an interview with New York Times.
The young woman says she turned very young, encouraged by her mother, to poetry, “an arena in which I could express myself freely“, to ward off a stammering that affected her as a child.
Highlighted Wednesday like never before, it is not yet its first distinction. At 16, in 2014, she obtained the title of “City of Los Angeles Junior Poet Laureate“, before publishing his first collection of poems the following year, The One For Whom Food is Not Enough. In 2017, while a sociology student at Harvard, she became the first person named “National Youth Poet“Her talent has naturally earned her already to be invited to declaim her poems in prestigious places such as the Bookstore of Congress or Harvard University.
On Wednesday January 20, she joined the small handful of poets invited in the past to read during presidential inauguration ceremonies – Robert Frost (John F. Kennedy in 1961), Maya Angelou (Bill Clinton in 1993), Miller Williams (Bill Clinton in 1997), Elizabeth Alexander (Barack Obama in 1999) and Richard Blanco (Barack Obama in 2013). But as the New York Times points out, none of his predecessors was so young and had faced such a challenge: to write a poem inspiring hope and unity at a time when America has rarely been so divided and is also facing a pandemic.
For his poem The Hill We Climb, Amanda Gorman says she sought inspiration from Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln. But she had warned in the press that she was not planning to spruce things up or avoid the problems of the past weeks, “even recent years“, in the USA.
She did not fail to mention the fragility of the country. “When day breaks we ask ourselves / Where can we find the light / In this endless shadow?“But she also esteemed in her poem that the”nation is not broken, just unfinished“and reassured with wisdom:”Even when we cried, we grew. ”“ There is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it – if only we are brave enough to be.”