Amanda S. C. Gorman is an American poet and activist. Her work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. She published the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough in 2015. In 2021, she delivered her poem 'The Hill We Climb' at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden.
Early life and education
Gorman was born in Los Angeles, California, on March 7, 1998. She was raised by her mother, Joan Wicks, a teacher, with her two siblings. She has a twin sister, Gabrielle, who is an activist and filmmaker. Gorman has said she grew up in an environment with limited television access. She has described her young self as a 'weird child' who enjoyed reading and writing and was encouraged by her mother.
Gorman has an auditory processing disorder and is hypersensitive to sound. She also had a speech impediment during childhood. Gorman participated in speech therapy during her childhood and Elida Kocharian of The Harvard Crimson wrote in 2018, 'Gorman doesn't view her speech impediment as a crutch—rather, she sees it as a gift and a strength.' Gorman told The Harvard Gazette in 2018, 'I always saw it as a strength because since I was experiencing these obstacles in terms of my auditory and vocal skills, I became really good at reading and writing. I realized that at a young age when I was reciting the Marianne Deborah Williamson quote that 'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure' to my mom.'
Gorman attended New Roads, a private school in Santa Monica, for grades K–12. As a senior, she received a Milken Family Foundation college scholarship. She studied sociology at Harvard College, graduating cum laude in 2020 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.
Poetry and activism
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, and Gorman in 2017 Gorman's art and activism focus on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. Gorman said she was inspired to become a youth delegate for the United Nations in 2013 after watching a speech by Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. Gorman was chosen as the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014. She published the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough in 2015.
In 2016, Gorman founded the nonprofit organization One Pen One Page, a youth writing and leadership program. In 2017, she became the first author to be featured on XQ Institute's Book of the Month, a monthly giveaway to share inspiring Gen Z's favorite books. She wrote a tribute for black athletes for Nike and has a book deal with Viking Children's Books to write two children's picture books.
In 2017, Gorman became the first youth poet to open the literary season for the Library of Congress, and she has read her poetry on MTV. She wrote 'In This Place: An American Lyric' for her September 2017 performance at the Library of Congress, which commemorated the inauguration of Tracy K. Smith as Poet Laureate of the United States. The Morgan Library and Museum acquired her poem 'In This Place ' and displayed it in 2018 near works by Elizabeth Bishop.
While at Harvard, Gorman became the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate in April 2017. She was chosen from five finalists. In 2017, Gorman won a $10,000 grant from media company OZY as part of the OZY Genius Awards.
In 2017, Gorman said she wants to run for president in 2036, and she has subsequently often repeated this hope. After she read her poem 'The Hill We Climb' at President Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021, Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for this 2036 aspiration.
Gorman reading 'The Hill We Climb' at the inauguration of Joe Biden in 2021. In May 2020, Gorman appeared in an episode of the web series Some Good News hosted by John Krasinski, where she had the opportunity to virtually meet Oprah Winfrey and issued a virtual commencement speech to those who could not attend physical commencements due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S..
In 2020, Gorman presented 'Earthrise', a poem focused on the climate crisis.
Gorman read her poem 'The Hill We Climb' at the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20, 2021, and is the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration in United States history. Jill Biden recommended her for the inauguration. After January 6, 2021, Gorman amended her poem's wording to address the storming of the United States Capitol. During the week before the inauguration, she told Washington Post book critic Ron Charles, 'My hope is that my poem will represent a moment of unity for our countr'y and 'with my words, I'll be able to speak to a new chapter and era for our nation.'
Soon after Gorman's performance at the inauguration, her two upcoming books, the poetry collection The Hill We Climb and a project for youth, Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, were at the top of Amazon's bestseller list. Both are scheduled to be released in September 2021.
Personal life Gorman is a Black Catholic, a member of St. Brigid Church in her hometown of Los Angeles.
Bibliography The Hill We Climb: Poems. Viking Books for Young Readers. 2021. ISBN 978-0-593-46506-6. OCLC 1232185776. The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country. Viking Books for Young Readers. 2021. ISBN 978-0-593-46527-1. OCLC 1232234825. Change Sings: A Children's Anthem. Viking Books for Young Readers. 2021. ISBN 978-0-593-20322-4. OCLC 1232149089.