By Christina Izzo published
Kamala Harris wasn't the only woman making history at today's presidential inauguration. Twenty-two-year-old Los Angeles native Amanda Gorman became the youngest known inaugural poet in U.S. history when she performed at Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony on Wednesday.
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Entitled The Hill We Climb, her stirring original composition was reportedly inspired by speeches from Abraham Lincoln and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as the insurrection that took place at the U.S. Capitol only two weeks ago. But it was another of Gorman's literary inspirations that caught the attention of social media: Hamilton.
Amanda Gorman Hamilton quotes
Yes, Lin-Manuel Miranda's Broadway juggernaut was referenced not once, but twice during Gorman's six-minute reading. Gorman nodded to LMM's hit musical with the verses "history has its eyes on us"—a play on the song History Has Its Eyes On You—and “they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees, and no one shall make them afraid," a Book of Micah quotation that George Washington paraphrases in the show. Miranda gave the young writer major props, tweeting:
You were perfect. Perfectly written, perfectly delivered. Every bit of it. Brava! -LMMJanuary 20, 2021
Gorman's grace under pressure—like, you know, performing while an entire nation watches—is not surprising. She was named America's First Youth Poet Laureate at the age of 19, and three years prior was Youth Poet Laureate of her native Los Angeles.
Fellow inaugural poets include Robert Frost, Elizabeth Alexander, and Maya Angelou, the latter to whom Gorman paid homage by wearing a caged bird ring inspired by the author's famed memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings given to her by Oprah Winfrey.
If you enjoyed Gorman's powerful poem—and many did, including Kerry Washington, Dan Levy, and Stacey Abrams, who all gave her social media shout-outs—good news: a bound edition of her inaugural poem is in the works, as well as a picture book entitled Change Things, due out in September.
Christina Izzo is the Deputy Editor of My Imperfect Life.
More generally, she is a writer-editor covering food and drink, travel, lifestyle and culture in New York City. She was previously the Features Editor at Rachael Ray In Season and Reveal, as well as the Food & Drink Editor and chief restaurant critic at Time Out New York.
When she’s not doing all that, she can probably be found eating cheese somewhere.
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