At just 22 years old, Amanda Gorman will be the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history. Gorman, who was previously the National Youth Poet Laureate, has been writing and performing poetry for much of her life, but Wednesday’s Presidential inauguration will have her reading in front of her biggest audience yet.
Gorman told the New York Times that the poem she plans to read, “The Hill We Climb,” was finished after the attempted coup at the Capitol building by Trump-loving white supremacists earlier this month.
“In my poem, I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years. But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal,” she said. “It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with.”
Although Biden’s inaugural committee didn’t give Gorman any specific guidelines on what to write about, the inauguration’s theme of “America United” helped guide the direction of her poem. She set out to write something that captured the hope of leaders who have worked to bring people together during times of division, while also remaining honest about the harsh realities of this period in U.S. history.
“We have to confront these realities if we’re going to move forward, so that’s also an important touchstone of the poem,” she said. “There is space for grief and horror and hope and unity, and I also hope that there is a breath for joy in the poem, because I do think we have a lot to celebrate at this inauguration.”