Grandmother of nation's first 'youth poet laureate' reflects on historic inauguration moment

For nearly six minutes, Amanda Gorman spoke to newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden and the nation Wednesday. Gorman, the nation’s first youth poet laureate, read a poem that she composed for the ceremony, called “The Hill We Climb.” She summoned images dire and triumphant as she called out to the world “even as we grieved, we grew.” Ahead of the inauguration, Gorman said that the insurrection at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, helped spur her completion of the poem. “That day gave me a second wave of energy to finish the poem,” she said. “The poem isn’t blind. It isn’t turning your back to the evidence of discord and division.”Gorman is 22, by far the youngest inaugural poet since Robert Frost read for John F. Kennedy in 1961. She quoted biblical scripture and echoed the oratory of Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. among others as she recited her poem at President Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday. “I was just filled with pride for my family, for her family, for her friends and for her,” Bertha Gaffney Gorman, her grandmother, said.”You see she grew up in the segregated South,” she continued. “Her father had little formal education, but made sure his children knew just how important it was.” This is not the first time the recent Harvard graduate has performed on a big stage. She read on the Fourth of July 2019 with the Boston Pops and at the 2018 inauguration of Harvard President Larry Bacow.

For nearly six minutes, Amanda Gorman spoke to newly-inaugurated President Joe Biden and the nation Wednesday.

Gorman, the nation’s first youth poet laureate, read a poem that she composed for the ceremony, called “The Hill We Climb.” She summoned images dire and triumphant as she called out to the world “even as we grieved, we grew.”

Ahead of the inauguration, Gorman said that the insurrection at the Capitol building on Jan. 6, helped spur her completion of the poem.

“That day gave me a second wave of energy to finish the poem,” she said. “The poem isn’t blind. It isn’t turning your back to the evidence of discord and division.”

Gorman is 22, by far the youngest inaugural poet since Robert Frost read for John F. Kennedy in 1961. She quoted biblical scripture and echoed the oratory of Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. among others as she recited her poem at President Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.

“I was just filled with pride for my family, for her family, for her friends and for her,” Bertha Gaffney Gorman, her grandmother, said.

“You see she grew up in the segregated South,” she continued. “Her father had little formal education, but made sure his children knew just how important it was.”

This is not the first time the recent Harvard graduate has performed on a big stage. She read on the Fourth of July 2019 with the Boston Pops and at the 2018 inauguration of Harvard President Larry Bacow.

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