Meet Amanda Gorman, the Inauguration poet who gets a Super Bowl 55 encore

By | February 6, 2021

It’s been quite the start to 2021 for Amanda Gorman.

Within the first 40 days of the new year, the poet will have read a poem at the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and read another poem at Super Bowl 55 in Tampa, Florida. It’s tough to find two bigger stages than that.

Here’s what you need to know about Gorman, from her rise to her wonderful words and how she fits into this year’s Super Bowl proceedings.

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Who is Amanda Gorman?

Gorman, 22, is the United States’ youth poet laureate. She earned that title at the age of 19, becoming the first person named to that role in the U.S., which has classically named a poet laureate but not one of the youth variety.

Raised near the Los Angeles neighborhood of Westchester, Gorman attended the New Roads School, a private school in Santa Monica. Gorman graduated from Harvard with a sociology degree in 2020. According to the Los Angeles Times, Gorman’s single mother, Joan Wicks, is an English teacher who “had a huge impact” on Gorman.

Gorman recalled hearing Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” in third grade and having it resonate with her, per the Los Angeles Times, and the spoken and written word has flowed through her ever since.

Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration poem

Gorman gained national attention for the poem she read at the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Jan. 20. She’d struggled to find the right words as the date approached, but the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol helped Gorman finish the piece, which she titled “The Hill We Climb.”

“I wasn’t trying to write something in which those events were painted as an irregularity or different from an America that I know,” Gorman told the Los Angeles Times. “America is messy. It’s still in its early development of all that we can become. And I have to recognize that in the poem. I can’t ignore that or erase it. And so I crafted an inaugural poem that recognizes these scars and these wounds. Hopefully, it will move us toward healing them.”

Gorman was handpicked by First Lady Jill Biden to read at the Inaugration. Dressed in bright yellow with a red hairpiece and gold both on her earrings and in her hair, Gorman spoke powerfully in her words and with her body language. Her final four lines were these:

“The new dawn blooms as we free it,
For there is always light,
If only we’re brave enough to see it,
If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Here’s the entire poem that Gorman read at the Inauguration:

Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration poem quotes

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade.
We’ve braved the belly of the beast,
We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace,
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice.
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it,
Somehow we do it,
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished.
We the successors of a country and a time,
Where a skinny Black girl,
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother,
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one.
And yes we are far from polished,
far from pristine,
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge a union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and
conditions of man.
And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us.
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside.
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another.
We seek harm to none and harmony for all.
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew.
That even as we hurt, we hoped.
That even as we tired, we tried.
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious,
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division.
Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid.
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made.
That is the promise to glade,
The hill we climb,
If only we dare.
It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it.
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.
In this truth
in this faith we trust.
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception.
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour,
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter,
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves.
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?
We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be.
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free.
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation.
Our blunders become their burdens,
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright.
So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with.
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution,
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south.
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful.
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid.
The new dawn blooms as we free it,
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it.
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

Why Amanda Gorman is at Super Bowl 55?

Gorman will read a poem at Super Bowl 55 to honor the three individuals named honorary captains for the game. That trio is made up of Los Angeles educator Trimaine Davis, Florida nurse manager Suzie Dorner and Pittsburgh-based Marine veteran James Martin, the three of whom are being honored for the work they’ve done during the coronavirus pandemic.

The poem will be read shortly before the start of the Super Bowl. While the NFL hasn’t announced a time, Gorman is supposed to recite the poem before the three honorary captains take part in the coin toss, so it likely will be within 20 or so minutes of the game kickoff, sometime between 6 p.m. ET and 6:30 p.m. ET.

If Gorman’s “big-game performance” at the Inauguration is any indidcation, you won’t want to miss her Super Bowl encore. 

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