Amanda Gorman, the youngest inaugural poet ever, reads a work she finished after the Capitol riot.
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman summoned images dire and triumphant Wednesday as she called out to the world “even as we grieved, we grew.”
When Ms. Gorman, 22, recited her poem at Wednesday’s inauguration, she became the youngest inaugural poet ever in the United States. Ms. Gorman joined a small group of poets who have been recruited to help mark a presidential inauguration, among them Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and Miller Williams.
Ms. Gorman fell in love with poetry at a young age and distinguished herself quickly as a rising talent. Raised in Los Angeles, where her mother teaches middle school, she would write in journals at the playground. At 16, she was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles. A few years later, when she was studying sociology at Harvard, she became the National Youth Poet Laureate, the first person to hold the position.
I had this huge thing, probably one of the most important things I’ll ever do in my career,” she stated in an interview. “It was like, if I try to climb this mountain all at once, I’m just going to pass out.”
Ms. Gorman managed to put in writing a few strains a day and was about midway by the poem on Jan. 6, when pro-Trump rioters stormed into the halls of Congress, some bearing weapons and Confederate flags. She stayed awake late into the evening and finished the poem, including verses about the apocalyptic scene that unfolded at the Capitol that day:
We’ve seen a power that will shatter our nation fairly than share it,
Would destroy our nation if it meant delaying democracy.
And this effort very almost succeeded.
But whereas democracy might be periodically delayed,
It can by no means be completely defeated