‘Make the dream exist.’ How L.A.’s Amanda Gorman became Biden’s inauguration poet
Amanda Gorman is an African American Poet and Activist from Los Angeles. She is is the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate and she’ll deliver a poem at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday, Via LA Times
Gorman, all of 22, became the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles at age 16 in 2014 and the first national youth poet laureate three years later. Come Wednesday, she will be the youngest poet to recite her work at a presidential inauguration, following in the considerably more experienced footsteps of Maya Angelou and Robert Frost.
Her precocious path was paved with both opportunities and challenges, an early passion for language and the diverse influences of her native city. Gorman grew up near Westchester but spent the bulk of her time around the New Roads School, a socioeconomically diverse private school in Santa Monica. Her mother, Joan Wicks, teaches middle school in Watts. Shuttling among the neighborhoods gave Gorman a window onto the deep inequities that divide ZIP Codes.
“Having a mom who is a teacher had a huge impact on me,” said Gorman, who witnessed her ability to empower young people through language. Long before she began reading her own poetry aloud in grand spaces for grand occasions — from July 4th to the inauguration of a new president of Harvard University — Gorman was falling in love, simultaneously, with the written and spoken word.
Her relationship with poetry dates at least to the third grade, when her teacher read Ray Bradbury’s “Dandelion Wine” to the class. She can’t recall what metaphor caught her attention, but she remembers that it reverberated inside her.
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