Dressed in yellow and wearing a red crown, the African-American poet Amanda Gorman captivated the public, Wednesday, January 20, during the inauguration ceremony of Joe Biden. At only 22 years old, the young woman from Los Angeles recited a poem of her own composition, The Hill We Climb (“The hill we climb”, a reference to Capitol Hill). In a calm voice, she chanted her rhymes, never letting through the stuttering that, like Joe Biden, affected her in her childhood.
Amanda Gorman wrote this text in one go after the violent intrusion of supporters of Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in early January. “I said to myself: ‘this is something we need to talk about'”, she explained on public radio NPR (in English).
In this poem, she evokes “a force that will break our Nation, rather than share it”. “This effort has almost succeeded, but if democracy can be delayed at times, it cannot be permanently suppressed”, promises Amanda Gorman. The young woman describes herself in the text as “a skinny black girl, descendant of slaves, raised by a single mother”, who finds himself “to recite” before a president. Child prodigy, she won her first poetry prize at 16 and was crowned with the title of “best young poet” from the country three years later, while studying sociology at Harvard University.
Before her, five other poets, including Robert Frost and Maya Angelou, participated in the investiture ceremonies of American presidents. None were so young. According to the American press, his name was whispered to the organizers of the ceremony by Jill Biden, the wife of the 46th president, who had attended one of his readings. Their order, placed in December: that she write an ode to“United America”, echoing the Democrat’s inaugural speech. His text complies with it, without denying the challenges that await the president: “As we look to the future, history is watching us.”