Amanda Gorman | Cheers To The Young Poet Who Captured America
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Amanda Gorman | Cheers To The Young Poet Who Captured America

January 7, 2022 Share

Meet Amanda Gorman, the 23-Year-old poet slash activist whose new day’s lyric kick-started 2022 with a look to the future.

Most of us became acquainted with Amanda Gorman one year ago when she delivered the inaugural poem on the day that Joe Biden was appointed as President of the United States of America.

The first female African-American youth poet grew up in Los Angeles. Much of her work is about social justice, which she attributes to her mother, Joan Wicks. Her mother raised her two daughters alone, whilst working as a mathematics and English language arts teacher.

“Poetry has been one of the most stable forms of expression for me in terms of my identity and who I am” – Amanda Gorman 

Looking back I remember clearly when I first locked eyes on Gorman. And I wasn’t the only one. Silence and awe followed this young figure as she graced the stage. 

Amanda Gorman
Photo by Variety. The photographer is LAUREN DUKOFF

Gorman at the time was only 22. But she stepped onto the podium with remarkable presence and confidence. A strong elegant voice poured out of her poetic melody as she spoke. 

“Where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry a sea we must wade…We’ve learnt that quiet isn’t always peace in the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always just-ice” – Amanda Gorman

She was mesmerizing before and had a standing ovation for a very good reason after.

This was just two weeks after Trump supporters had stormed the capitol to stop the United States Congress from certifying the election. Yet, Gorman, herself seemed to cast light on a very dark situation. The New Yorker’s poetry editor Kevin Young said that her poem was as vibrant and elegant as her yellow coat against the cold.

Amanda Gorman
CREDIT: KELIA ANNE

“I wasn’t exactly writing it for readers, I wrote it for myself. It was my kind of manifesto, a declaration of what I was setting out to do” – Amanda Gorman.

A month after she attended President Biden’s inauguration with an energising performance of The Hill We Climb, her rise to fame skyrocketed like no other.

The fame she gained during the inauguration allowed the poetic sensation to complete a tour of big talk shows, remotely, from her L.A. apartment. However, it wasn’t easy. The Trump years and the pandemic had starved our circuit of joy, elegance, positivity, intelligence and hope. 

But when Gorman came onscreen it was as if DeGeneres and James Cordon had sprung alive from a slumber. She matched the comedians’ wit, the embodiment of spring in her teal and owned her brightly coloured yellow-ness. 

Amanda Gorman
Amanda Gorman reads a poem during Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. Gorman has said she hopes to run for president herself one day. PATRICK SEMANSKY/AFP

With her now 3.8 million Instagram followers, she kicked off 2022 with a new poem she called New Day’s Lyric. She explains how even though we may be “tethered by this year of yearning. We are learning. That though we weren’t ready for this [pandemic], we have been readied by it.” 

And that “no matter how we are weighed down. We must always pave a way forward.”

In a world that needs constant light and where social injustice is continuously being talked about, the act of poetry is always seen at the forefront of these various movements. 

From the Declaration of Independence to Martin Luther King Jr’s speech I Have A Dream, poetry has always been the thread that has been woven throughout the fabric of American and global history.

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, May 2021

In an interview with TODAY, she had this to say:

“Focus on your purpose. Focus on how YOU can specifically break through the barrier. Breaking through in this day and age is not only about breaking through the door, but it’s also about holding it open so that other people can follow” – Amanda Gorman 

These are the words that resonated with me. That gave me goosebumps and chills to the bone.

This is what Don’t Die Wondering is all about. Finding your purpose, reaching for the unknown and creating waves of inspiration for others to follow.

But with the pandemic still looming heavily over our heads, her New Year’s speech targeted a very much needed humanitarian aid.

Amanda Gorman’s nod to 2022 aimed to “honour the hardships, hurt, hope and healing of 2021 while also harkening the potential of 2022.”

In her Instagram post, Gorman urged readers to donate money to the International Rescue Committee to help those affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Instagram’s parent company, Meta, has pledged $50,000 for far.

SEE MORE: How The World Has Become Truly Surreal

Author: Michelle Laver