Who Was The Poet At Biden's Inauguration?

It's an exciting day for the United States, as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president and Kamala Harris became the first Black, first South-Asian, and first female Vice President. There were many familiar faces at the event, including former presidents, current Senate members, and beloved former first ladies. Social media is abuzz about the many moving performances and speeches, from the likes of Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Garth Brooks, and more (via NPR). But perhaps one of the most well-received guest speakers at the Inauguration today came from a particularly unfamiliar face: the young poet Amanda Gorman. 

The 22-year-old Gorman can boast being the youngest poet to give an inaugural address in American history. In addition, she is the nation's first ever National Youth Poet Laureate, an organization that was founded in 2016 and is sponsored by the Library of Congress. The title is awarded to young poets that, according to the organization, "are committed to artistic excellence, civic engagement, and social justice. (Meera Dasgupta holds the 2020 title.)

Gorman delivered her original composition, "The Hill We Climb," with incredible pride and confidence as she addressed the entire nation ... and world (via YouTube).

Here's what we know about Amanda Gorman

The self-proclaimed "wordsmith" and "changemaker" is Harvard graduate with a degree in sociology. She was born and raised in LA and discovered her love for spoken word at a young age, ultimately leading her to becoming an author of three books, a recipient of countless poetry awards, and being invited to share her words with the likes of the Obamas, Lin Manuel-Miranda, Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, and more.

While her poetry on Inauguration Day certainly spoke for itself, people can't help but gush over Gorman's fashion choice. Clad in a yellow, double breasted Prada suit (via Insider), Gorman's fit was not only chosen for its gorgeous aesthetic, but also as a nod to someone in particular. In an interview with Vogue, the poet revealed that her yellow coat is a nod to first lady Jill Biden as a sign of appreciation, as Biden is the one that discovered and subsequently recommended her. Gorman says she was wearing yellow in the video that Biden initially saw of her.

As for other accessories of importance, Gorman can be seen wearing a caged bird ring, which she told Vogue was a gift from Oprah — but it's significant for another reason, too. She wanted to "symbolize I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," a famous book by Maya Angelou, a woman whom both Gorman and Oprah admire greatly.

Amanda Gorman and President Biden have this big thing in common

Jill Biden came across Gorman's poetry after watching a video of her performing at the Library of Congress and subsequently recommended her to be the one to deliver a poem at the Inauguration. Gorman developed a processing disorder at a young age that left her with a speech impediment, and she allegedly went under extensive therapy in order to correct it (via Vox). She and President Biden have this in common, as he also underwent extensive therapy in order to correct his stutter, a fact that he has been famously open about (via The Conversation).

There is truly nothing that Gorman loves more than poetry, and she says that performing her spoken word makes her feel alive. "When I am on stage, I feel electric. I feel like I could breathe fire," she told CBS News. "Poetry is a weapon. It is an instrument of social change ... and poetry is one of the most political arts out [ ... ] Inherently, you are pushing against the status quo. And so for me, it's always existed in that tradition of truth-telling."

We predict she's going to be a household name very soon — and not just because her Twitter following more than quadrupled just in the short time she was giving her speech (via Vox).

Amanda Gorman faced an incredible task while writing a poem for the inauguration

Amanda Gorman's moving and powerful address was a call for Americans to unify and "leave behind a country better than the one we were left" (via CNN). But despite the ease at which she delivered her poetry, the writing process wasn't a walk in the park.

Gorman worried she would struggle when writing the poem for such a monumental occasion. She told The New York Times in an interview that she believes it was the biggest thing she'll ever do in career. 

"It was like, if I try to climb this mountain all at once, I'm just going to pass out," she said. On Jan. 6, 2021, Gorman found herself about halfway through her poem when inspiration struck her — but not in a way she could have ever imagined or hoped for. She told The Times that she stayed up all night in order to find the right way to incorporate the riots at the U.S. Capitol into her writing: "We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it / Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy / And this effort very nearly succeeded / But while democracy can be periodically delayed / It can never be permanently defeated," she wrote.