By Prudence Minayo
As president Joe Biden and his vice president Kamala Harris ( the first female black Vice President of the United States of America) prepared to take on their new offices, all eyes were on Amanda Gorman. She is the young poet whose voice and message left an indelible mark in people’s minds. She eloquently recited the poem The Hill We Climb, which resonated so well with all those who watched and listened to her perform. The poem was full of apt lines that spoke to the people’s hearts.
“While democracy can be permanently denied, it can never be permanently denied.”
“We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy, ” she said.
Being born with a speech impediment did not stop her from reaching her dreams. She taught herself to pronounce and with determination and passion went to take over the world of poetry. As the poem lived up to the occasion and clearly described the situation in the United States of America, many were left wondering who she was.
Amanda was born on 7th March 1998.
She attended a private school in Santa Monica called New Roads for grade K-12. She then proceeded to Harvard College on a Milken Family Foundation College Scholarship. While at Harvard, she studied Sociology and became the first person to be named national youth poet laureate in April 2017. The same year, she won a $10,000 grant as part of the OZY Genius Awards. OZY is a media company.
The 22 year old was born and raised in California alongside two siblings by her mother, a teacher named Joan Wicks. As a child, access to television was not easy and she had a speech impediment. In order to cope with it, she turned to poetry.
“I don’t look at my disability as a weakness. It’s made the performer that I am and the storyteller that I strive to be. When you have to teach yourself how to say sounds, when you have to be highly concerned about pronunciation, it gives you a certain awareness of Sonics, of the auditory experience,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
Her love for poetry was born when she heard her teacher read the poem Dandelion Wine.
She once described herself as the weird child who always had her nose on books.
When she was 14 years old, she joined WriteGirl, which is a non profit organization in Los Angeles that promotes creativity and self expression to empower girls. She has credited the organization as being instrumental in helping her pursue her poetry.
Gorman is an activist who uses poetry to talk about issues in society. The issues range from feminism, oppression, race, marginalization among others.
The talented lady was inspired to become a youth delegate after watching a speech by Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistan lady that won the Nobel prize.
In 2014, she was chosen as the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles.
In 2015, she published the poetry book The one for whom food is not enough.
In 2017, she was the first youth poet to open the literary season for the library of Congress. She also became the first author to appear on XQ Institute’s book of the month, a monthly giveaway to share inspiring Gen Z’s favorite books. The youngster also declared that she wanted to run for presidency in 2036.
Apart from reciting poetry, she also founded a non profit organization called One Pen One page.
In May 2020, she made an appearance at an episode of the web series Some Good News hosted by John Krasinski. She issued a virtual commencement speech for those who could not attend it physically due to the Covid-19 situation in America. Through this, she was able to meet Oprah Winfrey virtually.
The recent Harvard graduate has two upcoming books; one is a children’s book called Change Sings and the other is a collection of poems.