Anyone who watched the US presidential inauguration this week was introduced to the poet Amanda Gorman, who has received great praise for the words she delivered. Not only is she the youngest inaugural poet ever, but her words also deeply moved a nation at a time of great division.
Among her many impactful verses, one that stuck with many listeners was, “If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy.” With the perfect mix of reflection on the past and hope for the future, Gorman articulated many of the shared fears and challenges facing Americans while providing a measured dose of optimism about the future.
Originally from Los Angeles, Gorman became the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles at age 16 and the first National Youth Poet Laureate three years later in 2017. A highlight of the inauguration, she is no stranger to being a “public occasion poet.” She has performed at the Library of Congress and the observation deck at the Empire State Building. Her inaugural performance puts her in the company of poetry greats like Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Much like President Joe Biden and Maya Angelou, Gorman also struggled with a speech impediment as a child. “I think there is a real history of orators who have had to struggle, a type of imposed voicelessness, you know, having that stage at the inauguration,” Gorman said in an NPR interview. “So it’s really special for me.”
We encourage you to listen to Amanda Gorman’s full performance and read her poem here.
Image source: Wall Street Journal