One of the highlights of President Joseph Biden’s inaugural ceremony last week came from one of the youngest people on the platform: Amanda Gorman, the first national youth poet laureate, read “The Hill We Climb,” a poem she had written for the occasion. Poised beyond her 22 years — and before what likely will be the biggest audience of her life — Gorman performed with grace and passion. And the poem itself was superb. If you haven’t seen it, here it is. If you have seen it, it’s worth watching again.
The poem, and Gorman’s performance, were rays of hope as bright as the coat she wore to the inauguration. (You could certainly pick her out of the crowd on the platform — well, Lady Gaga stood out as well.)
Before the inauguration, I had talked with people who were full of fears about what might happen in Washington and across the country on Jan. 20. (And, to be fair, there were plenty of legitimate reasons to be fearful. And — again to be fair — there are still plenty of reasons to fear for the country.) But to hear one of the youngest people on the platform step forward with such a clear-eyed yet hopeful message swept away those fears, for me, at least for a while.
It’s yet another testimony to the power of poetry.
Want to know more about Amanda Gorman? Click here to link to another Gorman poem, “In This Place (An American Lyric),” which she wrote in 2018. Click here to go to her website. And here’s a link to a New York Times story about how she wrote “The Hill We Climb”.