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Joe Biden swearing-in: Amanda Gorman becomes the youngest poet to read at an inauguration

With this, Gorman joins the likes of Elizabeth Alexander, Maya Angelou and Robert Frost

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
January 19, 2021 1:30:51 pm
At the age of 16, she was named the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

American poet and activist Amanda Gorman read at US President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. Born in 1998, she became the youngest poet to do so. Gorman suffered from speech impediment since childhood but that did stop her from finding her own voice. She refuses to view it as a weakness as well.

“I don’t look at my disability as a weakness,” said Gorman. “It’s made me 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 was quoted as saying at Los Angeles Times.

At the age of 16, she was named the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles. The next year, a report The Harvard Gazette informs, she published her first collection of poems. In 2017, she was named the nation’s first youth poet laureate. She had also read at Harvard’s 29th president, Lawrence S Bacow’s inauguration.

Her poem In This Place: An American Lyric is a masterclass about racism and oppression. Themes of social injustice and inequality inform her work to a large extent. “It’s not enough for me to write. I have to do right as well,” she had said. A report in Los Angeles Times further states that Jill Biden is a fan of her work.

With this, Gorman joins the likes of Elizabeth Alexander, who read at Barack Obama’s inauguration, Maya Angelou, who read at the first inauguration of President Bill Clinton and Robert Frost. He was the first inaugural poet way back at 1961 where he read at John F Kennedy’s inauguration.

A report in CNN shares that though the young poet takes at days to craft new poems, the one she read out was composed almost immediately. Previously, she had spoken about the themes that she had planned to address. “As I was crafting this piece, it was really trying to communicate a message of joining together and crossing divides,” Gorman had said.

She believes Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will “spearhead a new chapter in America, which we so desperately need — one of dignity, and integrity, and hope and unity, because there’s a lot that needs to get done and a lot that needs to be fixed. And I think that they’re the people to do it.”

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