What Aspiring Writers can Learn from Amanda Gorman


Harvard University

Amanda Gorman the first Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, is pictured in the Harvard Yard at Harvard University. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer.

AnnaBella McGinnis, Reporter

First Lady Jill Biden made the decision to choose poet Amanda Gorman, 22, to perform at the 2021 presidential inauguration. Gorman is not only the youngest poet to write and recite for a presidential inauguration, but a woman whose race would have historically prevented her from taking the stage to speak America’s truth years prior. Although Gorman is not the first woman of color to recite a poem at a presidential inauguration, she is the first poet with a disability to be brought on stage, which has sparked inspiration across the nation to those who have the same struggle as she does.

2020 was filled with the revival of anguish, racism, sorrow, in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic with continues to sweep the United States in a way unseen before. Gorman, however, took the opportunity to find the fine line between recognizing what needs change and motivating not just the country, but the whole world that was watching, to bring about that change. In a series of artistically chosen literary devices, Gorman captured the spirit of America that this generation has fought to see by recognizing its history and what we have learned from it.

“We braved the belly of the beasts. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. And the norms and notions of what just is, isn’t always justice,” a line from the poem Gorman read at the inauguration.

Something worth noting is that while many artists choose to use highly sophisticated language and open ended meanings in their work, Gorman understood that the majority of her audience were in no place to over analyze her work. With that understanding, she kept a simple element throughout her whole poem, making it easy for her audience to understand while also maintaining an artistic nature that left those who listened speechless.

Crafting a poem with this level of technique does not happen over night. Despite Gorman’s young age, she has garnered plenty of experience prior to the 2021 inauguration. Gorman was the first person to be named the National Youth Poet Laureate in L.A., and has spent years being an activist, speaking on issues of feminism, race, oppression, and other injustices. The young writer was said to be inspired by previous inaugural poet, Maya Angelou, when she read her autobiography “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.”

According to Understood.org, “Gorman was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder in kindergarten. She also has speech articulation issues that make it difficult for her to pronounce certain words and sounds.” However, this did not stop Gorman from speaking her truth artistically and publicly. When she recited “The Hill We Climb,” she pronounced each word with ease and confidence. She credits Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton” for helping her learn how to pronounce the letter R. Specifically the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” thanks to the repetition of the letter R in the song.

Since the inauguration, Amanda Gorman’s popularity has sky rocketed and she continues to use her new platform to encourage activism and speak out on issues that she feels need attention in the public eye. Recently, Gorman signed with IMG models and is scheduled to perform at the Super Bowl. In addition, she is coming out with three books that will be released later this year. She is a prime example of what happens when one uses their art to speak their truth, despite any obstacles that might get in the way. When we think about what the impact of our art could be, Amanda Gorman will be a face that comes to mind for many years to come.