Stunned reaction to 22yo who stole show


US poet laureate Amanda Gorman has stunned viewers of Joe Biden's presidential inauguration with her stirring poem calling for national unity which she finished writing the night Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol building.

The 22-year-old was tapped by First Lady Jill Biden, who suggested the young poet to Biden's inaugural committee after seeing her read at the Library of Congress - though she wasn't given a lot of guidance for her Inauguration Day poem.

"They did not want to put up guardrails for me at all," Ms Gorman told The New York Times. "The theme for the inauguration in its entirety is 'America United,' so when I heard that was their vision, that made it very easy for me to say, great, that's also what I wanted to write about in my poem, about America united, about a new chapter in our country."

She said another important touchstone for the poem, titled The Hill We Climb, was about confronting the realities of America's history while also leaving "a breath for joy … because I do think we have a lot to celebrate at this inauguration".

Ms Gorman describes her background in the poem as that of a "skinny black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother," who can dream of being president one day, "only to find herself reciting for one".

She previously told the NYT she planned to run for President herself in 2036, and it looks like she's got some early support for any eventual tilt at the Oval office.

Ms Gorman's performance has been celebrated widely, with stars like Oprah Winfrey, Bette Midler and Lin Manuel-Miranda, as well as US political figures applauding the young poet.

In 2017, Ms Gorman became the US' first National Youth Poet Laureate at the age of 19 while she studied at Harvard.

Earlier this month the poem she stunned onlookers with on Thursday morning was proving difficult to put together.

"I had this huge thing, probably one of the most important things I'll ever do in my career," Ms Gorman said.

"It was like, if I try to climb this mountain all at once, I'm just going to pass out."


She slowly chipped away at the poem, adding a couple of lines each day, but she was only halfway through on January 6, when the US Capitol building became the site of a riot featuring conspiracy theorists and Confederate flags.

The scenes motivated Ms Gorman to work late into the night finishing the piece.

You can watch it for yourself or read the transcript below.

US Inauguration: Poet Amanda Gorman reads 'The Hill We Climb': Amanda Gorman delivered an original composition, "The Hill We Climb," at the Biden-Harris US Inauguration.



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 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 justice.

And yet the dawn is ours before we knew it.

Somehow we do it.

Somehow we 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 our union with purpose.

To compose a country committed to all cultures, colours, characters and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gaze, 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, become the future.

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.

Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest, we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.

We will rise from the golden hills of the West.

We will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realised 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 of flame and unafraid.

The new dawn balloons 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.



Originally published as Stunned reaction to 22yo who stole show