Poet Biographies

Amanda Gorman: Giving a Voice to the Voiceless

Amanda Gorman is a young American poet and activist known for her powerful and inspiring words. She became the youngest poet in U.S. history to perform at an inauguration. Gorman continues to use her voice to advocate for social justice and equality.

Amanda Gorman is an American poet and social activist who garnered national attention for her powerful and touching performance of her poem ‘The Hill We Climb‘ at the presidential inauguration of Joe Biden. At just 22 years old, on January 20, 2021, Gorman became the youngest poet ever to perform at a presidential inauguration, and her stunning delivery and poignant words captivated the nation.

Childhood and Education

Amanda Gorman is an American poet who was born in 1998 in Los Angeles, California. She was raised by a single mother, Dr. Joan Wicks, a middle school English teacher, along with her two siblings, one of whom is her twin, Gabrielle. Gorman was later inspired by her childhood and her mother’s dedication to her and her siblings when writing.

When speaking about her own childhood, Gorman describes herself as a “weird child” who grew up with very little access to television. She was encouraged by her mother to spend her time reading and writing. Gorman also describes a speech impediment she had as a child, an auditory processing disorder, and her hypersensitivity to sound. She engaged in speech therapy as a child but did not feel like it had impeded her in life. In fact, she reportedly sees it as a “gift and a strength.”

As a young child, she attended a private school in Santa Monica and received a scholarship to attend college. She studied sociology at Harvard University and graduated cum laude in 2020. That same year she presented Earthrise,’ a poem focused on the climate crisis, and appeared on Some Good News hosted by John Krasinski, where she met virtually with Oprah Winfrey.

Poetry and Career 

Gorman’s poetry focuses on issues of feminism, race, marginalization, oppression, and the African diaspora. She was chosen as the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 and published her first book of poetry The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough, in 2015. A year later, she founded One Pen One Page, a nonprofit organization that focuses on writing and leadership, providing free creative writing programs for underserved youth. In 2017, she was the first author to be featured on XQ Institute’s Book of the Month. It was this same year that she became the first youth poet to open the literary season at the Library of Congress. For that opening, she wrote In This Place: An American Lyric.’ This performance also inaugurated Tracy K. Smith as Poet Laureate of the United States. The poem was put on display in 2018 near to poems by Elizabeth Bishop.

While she was at Harvard College, Gorman was named the first National Youth Poet Laureate in April 2017. She was one of five finalists and won a grant from a media company.

One of her greatest achievements was becoming the first poet asked to write a poem to be read at Super Bowl LV.

Gorman has continued to use her platform to advocate for social justice and to promote literacy and youth empowerment. She’s been invited to appear on several television shows, including The Ellen DeGeneres Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and she’s been recognized as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2021.

The Hill We Climb and President Joe Biden’s Inauguration

Gorman came into the public spotlight in 2021 when she read her poem, ‘The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country’ at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. She wrote the poem for the occasion and is the youngest poet to ever read at a presidential inauguration in history. She was also among a very exclusive group of poets who had once recited at an inauguration. Only some of the greatest writers, such as Maya Angelou and Robert Frost, have achieved this.

Reportedly, President Biden recommended her for the occasion. In part, the poem was inspired by events of less than two weeks prior, the storming of the United States Capital by supporters of then-President Trump. After completing her reading, and receiving rave reviews from the public, her two books, The Hill We Climb and Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, made it to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list.

It is clear that her iconic recital touched both old and young readers across the globe. How she captured the imagination of many around the world was extremely impressive at such a young age. There was a surge in surrounding interest directly after Gorman’s historic speech. Interestingly, there was an amazing 560% increase in online searches for ‘red headband.’

Influence of Other Poets

 Amanda Gorman has spoke of the influences that fuelled her to achieve what she has. She has garnered creativity from mainly female figures throughout society. Gorman was inspired by the likes of Maya Angelou, the Duchess of Sussex, and Michelle Obama.

It was Maya Angelou’s poetry that had the largest impact on Gorman’s development as a writer.


Why did Amanda Gorman write ‘The Hill We Climb?’

Amanda Gormon wrote ‘The Hill We Climb‘ in 2021 with the intention of bringing the people of the United States together with unity. The Hill is a representation of the political, social, and financial struggles that the United States of America is facing but can overcome with togetherness. Its themes were so relatable to the current state of affairs that it was chosen to be recited at Joe Biden’s Inauguration.

What is Amanda Gorman’s most famous quote?

Amanda Gormon’s most famous quote comes from her work ‘The Hill We Climb.’ In the poem, Gorman says, “There is always light. If only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it,” meaning that any problem can be overcome, but only if you acknowledge the problem.

Who is Amanda Gorman’s Mom and Dad?

Amanda Gorman was born to her mother, Joan Wicks, on March 7, 1998. However, despite the great relationship with her mother, Gorman has never publicly spoken about her father, so he is yet unknown to the public eye.

What is the message of The Hill We Climb?

Although open to interpretation, the message of The Hill We Climb is one of togetherness and unity in the face of chaos and struggle. The verses are a call for action and raise the argument that ‘The Hill’ can be overcome by the citizens of a society coming together and creating a greater cause for good.

Who is Amanda Gorman’s intended audience?

Although Amanda Gorman was speaking to the whole nation of the United States of America during her recital of The Hill We Climb, she tends to be most relatable to the younger generation as she writes about unity being needed to work towards the future.

Emma Baldwin Poetry Expert
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues through analyzing poetry on Poem Analysis.
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