Amanda Gorman made history in January as the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history – and she’s just getting started.
The 22-year-old Harvard graduate and National Youth Poet Laureate has plenty up her sleeve, from a Vogue magazine cover to an interview with Oprah Winfrey and a Time magazine cover conversation with former first lady Michelle Obama.
At the inauguration on Jan. 20, she read an original poem titled “The Hill We Climb,” calling for unity and healing as the U.S. ushered in its 46th president, Joe Biden.
“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 read.
Her reading went viral and the young poet has had a busy schedule since. Here’s what else to look forward to from Gorman.
Meet Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet in US history, who called for unity on Inauguration Day
Gorman Vogue cover story: ‘Abundance is forbidden fruit’
Gorman covered the May 2021 issue of Vogue, and she discussed adjusting to her onset fame and being in the public eye in the cover story published April 7. Gorman said she is “trying not to judge herself” as she adjusts to her newfound fame.
“When you’re someone who’s lived a life where certain resources were scarce, you always feel like abundance is forbidden fruit,” Gorman said.
She told the magazine she estimates that she has turned down about $17 million in publicity offers, but tries not to look at the figures when an opportunity arises.
“I didn’t really look at the details,” she said. “Because if you see something and it says a million dollars, you’re going to rationalize why that makes sense.”
She added: “I have to be conscious of taking commissions that speak to me.”
Gorman and Oprah conversation: Maya Angelou ‘a beacon’ for her life
Gorman sat down with Winfrey for an episode of “The Oprah Conversation”in March and gave credit to the women like Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and even Winfrey for her own successes.
Every morning of her senior year in college, Gorman said she “grounded herself” with the late Angelou’s inauguration poem, “On the Pulse of Morning.” Gorman’s ability to “connect” with Angelou goes deeper than sharing the title of inaugural poet.
“It was an amazing discovery when I was reading ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ her autobiography and reading about (Angelou’s) issues with speech,” Gorman said.
Gorman, who also grew up with a speech impediment, said after reading Angelou’s book she was angry with her educators for not clueing her into the similarity she shared with the poet but considered it “a beacon” for her life.
“I was like ‘I’m a Black girl with a speech impediment and no one thought it was relevant to tell me that this great orator that I’m reading had a similar struggle?’ ” she said. “Being able to connect with her and relate with that was a real beacon for me in my life.”
‘It was an amazing discovery’:Amanda Gorman tells Oprah about her connection to Maya Angelou
‘I am not lightning that strikes once’: Interview with Michelle Obama for Time magazine
In conversation with Obama about the “current renaissance in Black art,” Gorman appeared on the cover of the Feb. 5 edition of Time magazine guest edited by author Ibram X. Kendi, wearing yellow and a crown headband, just like she did on Inauguration Day.
“Poetry and language are often at the heartbeat of movements for change,” Gorman told Obama in the interview. “If we look to the Black Lives Matter protests, you see banners that say, ‘They buried us but they didn’t know we were seeds.’ That’s poetry being marshaled to speak of racial justice. If you analyze Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, it’s a great document of rhetoric that’s also a great document of poetry, of imagery, of song. Never underestimate the power of art as the language of the people.”
Gorman reflected on her inauguration poem’s call for unity: “To me, unity without a sense of justice, equality and fairness is just toxic mob mentality. Unity that actually moves us toward the future means that we accept our differences — we embrace them and we lean into that diversity. It’s not linking arms without questioning what we’re linking arms for. It’s unity with purpose.”
Obama said she felt “proud” and “profoundly moved” watching the young poet read her work at Biden’s inauguration.
“The power of your words blew me away—but it was more than that. It was your presence onstage, the confidence you exuded as a young Black woman helping to turn the page to a more hopeful chapter in American leadership,” Obama said.
Having solidified her place in the spotlight – as the rest of the accolades in this story confirm – Gorman also offered advice to young Black girls hoping to do the same.
“Especially for girls of color, we’re treated as lightning or gold in the pan—we’re not treated as things that are going to last,” Gorman said. “You really have to crown yourself with the belief that what I’m about and what I’m here for is way beyond this moment. I’m learning that I am not lightning that strikes once. I am the hurricane that comes every single year, and you can expect to see me again soon.”
Read the full text of ‘The Hill We Climb’: Amanda Gorman performs powerful poem at inauguration
Honoring ‘change-makers’ with a poem at the Super Bowl
Gorman shared an original poem at this year’s Super Bowl about the resiliency of the game’s three honorary game captain.
“Humbled to be the first poet to perform at the Super Bowl!” Gorman tweeted when the NFL announcement in January. “I’m so excited to place poetry at the forefront of the most watched U.S. television broadcast, & to honor 3 heroes of the coronavirus pandemic. Can’t wait for the world to hear their stories!”
The league said the honorary captains – Los Angeles educator Trimaine Davis, Florida-based nurse Suzie Dorner, who manages a COVID intensive care unit at a Tampa hospital and Marine Corps veteran James Martin of Pittsburg – were chosen “because of their dedication and selfless commitment to helping others” during the pandemic.
“When I was called with the idea of honoring these three amazing change-makers, I was so touched by their altruism,” Gorman added on Instagram. “We filmed this segment from my hometown following strict Covid protocols.”
Gorman clarified that her Super Bowl appearance was already in the works ahead of her “inauguration fame.”
“I’ve actually been talking with the Super Bowl for weeks now, far prior to my invite to the inauguration,” she explained. “Had to keep my blessing secret till now.”
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman to perform at Super Bowl
Joining the ranks of major models
Gorman’s style at the inauguration – a bright yellow Prada coat, red velvet headband that’s already sold out and jewelry loaned to her by Oprah (it’s casual!) – garnered plenty of attention.
Now, the poet can add “model” to her list of accolades. IMG Models, which represents the likes of Gisele Bündchen, Gigi Hadid, Kate Moss and Chrissy Teigen, announced Jan. 26 that Gorman would be joining their lineup.
Inspiring the young generation with bestselling books
Some of Gorman’s works are scheduled to be published this year: the printed copy of her Inauguration Day poem, “The Hill We Climb,” out now; plus a poetry collection, similarly titled “The Hill We Climb and Other Poems,” and a children’s book titled “Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem,” both due Sept. 21.
“The Hill We Climb” is the first book of poetry to debut at No. 1 on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books List.
Gorman’s upcoming poetry collection is aimed at readers age 14 and up. In a press release from Viking Books for Young Readers, the poet said she hopes the collection can “inspire and uplift readers with its verse at a time when we could all use more poetry in our lives, no matter our age.”
On Instagram, Gorman shared the cover of her children’s book, writing that she wrote “Change Sings” “as a children’s anthem to remind young readers that they have the power to shape the world.”
More:Amanda Gorman’s ‘The Hill We Climb’ debuts at No. 1 on USA TODAY’s bestseller list, first for a poetry book
‘The Hill We Climb’:Dutch writer will not translate Amanda Gorman’s poem after ‘uproar’ that a white author was selected
On Feb. 26, writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, who was supposed to write a Dutch translation of “The Hill We Climb,” handed back the assignment following criticism that a white author was selected to translate the words of a Black woman.
“I am shocked by the uproar around my involvement in the dissemination of Amanda Gorman’s message, and I understand people who feel hurt by the choice of Meulenhoff to ask me,” tweeted Rijneveld, who writes poetry as well as novels.
More:Amanda Gorman’s books don’t come out for months, but they’re already Amazon bestsellers
According to Rolling Stone and The Hill, Gorman previously published the book “The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough” in 2015, though the title is not currently available on Amazon.
‘Talking Gets Us There’: An animated short film
Gorman’s poetry is being turned into another medium.
In honor of Black History Month in February, PBS adapted her original poem “Talking Gets Us There” into an animated short film that parents and educators can use as a resource against racism. Gorman originally penned the poem for the “PBS KIDS Talk About: Race and Racism special,” which she hosted in October.
Contributing: Charles Trepany, Cydney Henderson, Associated Press