Opinions

“The Hill We Climb”: Amanda Gorman’s rise to the top

by Amélia Ávila (’24) | March 1, 2021

Art by Lily Baker (’21)

“You can do anything you put your mind to.” I’d heard that phrase many times but had always been skeptical until Inauguration Day, when I learned about Amanda Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate. Gorman recited her new poem, “The Hill We Climb,” with emotion and power. I found myself deeply moved and paid attention to every single word. Immediately afterward, her book became a bestseller on Amazon, even though it has not been officially released yet. 

After I watched her interview on CNN, I learned that she and I have three big things in common: we’re both Californians, we are both Hamilton Fans, and most importantly, we both enjoy binging episodes of the Great British Baking Show. Amanda Gorman is the face of the future, a pioneer for other young girls of color, specifically Black and Latina girls, that have not always been appreciated in the American art world. 

Gorman grew up in Los Angeles and struggled with a speech impediment growing up. In an interview with Anderson Cooper, she revealed that instead of the impediment discouraging her, she used writing as a form of self-expression to articulate her voice on the page. Because Gorman found difficulty in pronouncing words, she wrote poems, and reciting her poems helped her find her voice. Since Gorman is also a big fan of Hamilton, she practiced “Aaron Burr, Sir,” a slow rap notoriously known for its repetitive r-sounds and rhymes, in order to be able to pronounce the letter r; this helped her eventually overcome her speech impediment altogether. Lin Manuel Miranda, the creator, composer, and star of Hamilton, tweeted in support of the Inaugural poet by simply saying “YES,” and tagging Gorman. Later, he proceeded to write about Amanda Gorman for TIME magazine’s “TIME100 Next,” saying that he is Gorman’s “fan for life.” 

Even though she has earned the awe and admiration of many celebrities and powerful figures, Gorman is still down-to-earth and uses her new-found fame to uplift others. On February 19, she tweeted a fan’s son’s poem, which earned almost six thousand likes in one day. She has rightfully earned the great support and respect of people around the world; her words were the remedy we all needed after the insurrection at the Capitol building on January 6th. Besides the inauguration, Amanda Gorman also performed her poem “Chorus of the Captains” at the Super Bowl, dedicated to the front-line workers battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only does Amanda Gorman possess elite poetry skills, but she is now also a fashion icon. Headband searches skyrocketed after she wore a signature yellow coat and a bright red headband to the Inauguration. In fact, Gorman has now signed a contract with IMG, a major modeling agency. Amanda Gorman is living proof that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything. 

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