2 weeks ago today, the United States celebrated another Inauguration Day–my 13th to be exact since I have been alive-even in pandemic times — it was a star-studded affair. J-Lo invited everyone to “get loud,” Garth went in for the hug, and we all went Gaga for the Lady’s giant peace dove before Michelle appeared and slayed us all in that stunning purple pantsuit!
But nothing could have prepared us for Amanda Gorman! She ascended to the podium resplendent in bright, hopeful canary yellow and crowned in regal red, and for six glorious minutes reminded us all that we are the United States of America!
A glance at Twitter during and immediately following the recitation of her original poem “The Hill We Climb” let me know I was not the only one experiencing something powerful and transcendent.
After a tumultuous season punctuated just a week before with a violent riot that breached the Capitol Building, this slight young woman, glowing with a sense of confident purpose, reminded a wounded nation that “Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished.”
Surely I wasn’t the only American watching that exhaled a bit upon hearing that line and began feeling just the sweetest little bit of hope! In fact, below you can watch, OR rewatch it again of Amanda’s January 20th, 2021, speech seen and heard around the globe!
And I know I wasn’t the only American who raced to Google to learn more about exactly who this young poet laureate is. So who is Amanda Gorman? She’s the very picture of moxie. Here’s how:
Moxie discovers its purpose.
Gorman grew up in Los Angeles with her mother, twin sister, and older brother. Gorman’s mother is a teacher and began instilling a love of language in her children early. But it was a recitation of Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” by her third-grade teacher that rocked her soul. Something about poetry began to resonate deeply.
Around the same time, Gorman also discovered a love for bringing words and ideas to life through performance. Her talent and ability as a poet and performer grew, and she became nationally recognized for her gifts. She was named the nation’s first youth poet laureate at the tender age of 17. She went on the attend and graduate from Harvard with a degree in sociology.
Moxie works hard to overcome.
Imagine being a poet and performer and struggling to say pronounce the word “poetry.” Believe it or not, Gorman struggles with a speech impediment! She has difficulty pronouncing certain sounds, including “r” sounds.
Overcoming the impediment has sometimes meant reaching for different words that express her meaning yet don’t require her to tackle syllables that are difficult for her to say. But it’s also meant facing the challenge head-on and has worked to master whatever sound the moment requires.
“But I don’t look at my disability as a weakness,” Gorman told the Los Angeles Times. “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.”
Moxie dreams big.
It’s tempting to think Gorman may have peaked at the tender age of 22. DON’T BECAUSE SHE HASN’T!
In the days that followed the inauguration, her first yet-to-be-published books hit the Amazon bestseller lists, with one not even out until September 2021-see book cover below.
She was just offered a modeling contract and signed on!
Perhaps most remarkably, she’ll be reciting one of her poems at the upcoming Super Bowl.
I have a feeling we’ll be seeing and hearing so much more from her in the years to come.
Perhaps a run for the White House herself in 2036, it is the first year she will be eligible! Hey, for her, it may just be another “hill she climbs.”
Amanda Gorman’s Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amanda_Gorman
National Youth Poet Laureate Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Youth_Poet_Laureate
The United States Presidential Inauguration Wikipedia Page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_inauguration