She makes history on January 20 as the youngest poet to ever read at a presidential inauguration. Learn more about Amanda Gorman, the poet hand-picked by Dr. Jill Biden.
She’s the nation’s youngest poet laureate. She’s received awards from College Women of the Year and the Webbys. And now, Amanda Gorman can add inauguration poet to her resume. Amanda, 22, was picked by incoming first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, to join the likes of Maya Angelou (her hero) and Robert Frost by reading a poem at the 2021 inauguration. Here’s five things you need to know about Amanda and her incredible work:
She’ll be reading a poem inspired by the Capitol Hill siege.
Amanda told the Associated Press that the riot at Capitol Hill on January 6 will be mentioned in “The Hill We Climb,” the poem she wrote for Joe Biden‘s inauguration. “That day gave me a second wave of energy to finish the poem,” Amanda said. “The poem isn’t blind. It isn’t turning your back to the evidence of discord and division.”
Amanda shared her thoughts about the riot on Twitter as it was happening: “Unarmed black people have been killed in our own homes, our own cars, our own schools. Meanwhile white protesters storm the US capitol. Racial equality doesn’t mean the death of these white protesters. Equality means that those black hearts should’ve been beating today.”
She’s the United States’ first Youth Poet Laureate.
Amanda received the prestigious distinction in 2017, when she was just 18 years old. She was praised by former First Lady Michelle Obama, and honored at Gracie Mansion in New York City with Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family. Amanda performed at the Library of Congress in 2020.
She’s read poems for Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton.
And that’s just the beginning. She’s also performed for Lin-Manuel Miranda, Malala Yousafzai, and former Vice President Al Gore, according to her website. Amanda has also appeared several times on CBS This Morning to recite commissioned poetry.
She’s published one book, The One for Whom Food is Not Enough, and has another on the way.
Amanda published her first collection of poems,The One for Whom Food is Not Enough, in 2015. In September 2021, her first children’s book debuts. Change Sings is illustrated by Loren Long, the illustrator behind former President Barack Obama‘s Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters. “As a young girl leads a cast of characters on a musical journey, they learn that they have the power to make changes—big or small—in the world, in their communities, and in most importantly, in themselves,” the book’s description reads. “Change Sings is a triumphant call to action for everyone to use their abilities to make a difference.
She’s the founder and executive director of One Pen One Page.
One Pen One Page is an organization that “provides creative writing programming and publishing opportunities to underserved youth,” Amanda said in an interview with The Project For Women. “My mom is an English teacher at an inner-city public school, and it was after seeing the role of literacy in the lives of students of color that I realized how critical it was. I started teaching some creative writing workshops at my mom’s school when I was 15, and I got funding from the HERlead program to add a reading rewards initiative, leadership summit, and online blog to OPOP’s work.”