Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Amanda Gorman: The hill she climbs

Click here for Amanda Gorman at the 2021 Inauguration.

Amanda Gorman decided to be president long before she was chosen as the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration. In her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” she alludes to a speech impediment but it wasn’t evident in her presentation.

When I found a video of her presenting at a Moth GrandSlam almost four years earlier, I had a better idea of how far she has come. (She won that competition held at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston, 2017.) 

Wikipedia provides some background on Gorman who was raised by her single mother, Dr. Joan Wicks, a sixth grade teacher, and two siblings, including her twin sister Gabrielle.
Gorman has an auditory processing disorder and is hypersensitive to sound. She also had a speech impediment during childhood. Gorman participated in speech therapy during her childhood and Elida Kocharian of The Harvard Crimson wrote in 2018, "Gorman doesn't view her speech impediment as a crutch—rather, she sees it as a gift and a strength. Gorman told The Harvard Gazette in 2018, 

"I always saw it as a strength because since I was experiencing these obstacles in terms of my auditory and vocal skills, I became really good at reading and writing. I realized that at a young age when I was reciting the Marianne Williamson quote that "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure" to my mom"
While she looks younger than her 22 years, Amanda already has a long history of accomplishments and firsts:
  • Youth poet laureate of Los Angeles (16)
  • Published poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough (17)
  • Founded the nonprofit organization One Pen One Page, a youth writing and leadership program (18)
  • The first author to be featured on XQ Institute's Book of the Month, a monthly giveaway to share inspiring Gen Z's favorite books
  • Wrote a tribute for black athletes for Nike
  • First youth poet to open the literary season for the Library of Congress (19)
  • First person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate (19)
  • One of Glamour magazine's 2018 "College Women of the Year” (20)
During the week before the inauguration, she told Washington Post book critic Ron Charles, "My hope is that my poem will represent a moment of unity for our country" and "with my words, I'll be able to speak to a new chapter and era for our nation.”

After her inaugural reading, Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for Gorman's 2036 presidential aspiration. At the rate Amanda Gorman is going, she might just make her sixth grade dream a reality.

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