How inaugural poet Amanda Gorman overcame speech impediment

Youngest ever inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, 22, shoots to stardom after overcoming a speech impediment to perform at Biden ceremony, as her book flies to number one, she racks up 2 million followers on Instagram, and lands OPRAH as a new pal

  • Amanda, who is from Los Angeles, became the youngest inaugural poet in US history when she performed her own piece, The Hill We Climb, on Wednesday 
  • Her performance earned praise from millions – including the likes of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Legend, and Oprah Winfrey 
  • Amanda revealed that she and Oprah have struck up a firm friendship over the past few months after the TV legend wrote to her and revealed she was a fan 
  • Oprah, 66, bought the ring and earrings Amanda wore to the inauguration, having purchased the coat and gloves Maya Angelou wore at Clinton’s ceremony
  • Amanda struggled with a speech impediment for much of her life that left her unable to say certain letters and sounds, including ‘r’, until age 20
  • She says she was inspired by President Joe Biden’s own battle with a stutter 
  • Many have already urged the Harvard grad to run for President herself in 2036 after she revealed that it was her childhood dream in her inaugural poem 
  • Within hours of the ceremony, Amanda’s books had flown to the top of the Amazon charts, landing in the number one and number two spots  

The youngest ever inaugural poet has become an overnight star after overcoming a lifelong speech impediment to perform at President Joe Biden’s ceremony in an appearance that has earned her a slew of praise from high-profile fans including Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and John Legend. 

Amanda Gorman, 22, left a lasting impression on spectators when she took to the stage to recite her original piece The Hill We Climb, earning herself a place in the history books while shooting to global stardom. 

In the wake of her appearance at the star-studded proceedings, which also included performances from Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez, the Los Angeles native has seen her books shoot to the top of the Amazon charts, she’s raked in more than two million Instagram followers – and been inundated with compliments from celebrities the world over.  

But while Harvard graduate Amanda captivated millions with her confident and clear oration on Wednesday, she later revealed that the performance could not have happened a few years ago when she was still struggling with a lifelong speech impediment that left her unable to say several letters and sounds.  

Center stage: Amanda Gorman, 22, made history during President Joe Biden’s inauguration when she became the youngest ever inaugural poet 

Stardom: The Harvard graduate, who is from Los Angeles, shot to global fame after her performance, which earned her high praise from a host of A-listers 

Momentous: Amanda received a standing ovation from President Biden – and later revealed that his battle with a stutter helped her to overcome her own lifelong speech impediment 

Much like President Joe Biden, who has been open about his battle with a stutter, Amanda has spent much of her life working to overcome her own impediment, a challenge that she says she could not have faced without the inspiration of the newly-elected leader that she performed in honor of. 

‘President Biden has been super open about his stutter,’ she told Good Morning America on Thursday. 

‘My speech impediment wasn’t a stutter but it was dropping several letters that I just could not say for years. Most specifically the R sound. It took until I was 20 to say it. [Which meant] that I couldn’t say words like ‘poetry’ or even ‘Gorman’ which is my last name.

‘I had to really work at it and practice to get to where I am today.’ 

The poem that Amanda so ably performed at the inauguration was testament to her hard work; the piece featured ‘rise’ several times, a word that the poet was unable to utter just a few short years ago. 

‘I was kind of like why on the world did I put “rise” in my poem about five times,’ she joked. 

‘But also it was this amazing full circle moment for me because if I’d written this poem three years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to say it. So it was me rising as well as the country at that time.’

President Biden was not the only member of his family to play a key role in Amanda’s ascent to the inaugural stage; his wife, Jill, was actually the person who found the young poet and invited her to perform at the auspicious event in late December. 

‘When I was told by the presidential inaugural committee, I was overjoyed, I was grateful, I was honestly shocked,’ Amanda recalled. 

‘I had not been expecting that at 22 they would trust me with such an honor. And I was also daunted at the same time, I was honestly scared of writing such a poem, I wasn’t sure if I could do it justice. But I’m so glad that I put my best foot forward and did it.’

In preparing for the inauguration, Amanda revealed to CNN’s Anderson Cooper that she did ‘a lot of research’, including reading all of the previous inaugural poems and doing ‘a deep literature dive’, referring to the works of other orators that she looks up to, including Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. 

But she also had a helping hand in getting ready for the milestone moment from her star-studded new pal Oprah, who reached out to Amanda ahead of the inauguration to offer to buy her something special to wear at the ceremony. 

The TV legend purchased the coat and gloves that the late Maya Angelou wore during Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993 and wanted to continue the tradition, the young poet shared. 

‘Oprah wrote to me – and we’ve been in touch for a while now – saying, “I bought Maya Angelou’s coat and gloves when she performed the poem at Clinton’s inauguration, and I’d love to continue the tradition and buy something for you.”  

Style star: As well as earning praise for her performance, Amanda was also applauded for her chic ensemble, which featured a bright yellow jacket and bold red headband, both from Prada

Lucky: She revealed that new friend Oprah bought the ring and earrings and wore. The ring has a caged bird in it to symbolize Maya Angelou’s biography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Support: Oprah Winfrey took to Twitter shortly after the inauguration to share how ‘proud’ she was of Amanda – who performed her own original poem, The Hill We Climb 

Connection: Amanda revealed to GMA on Thursday morning that she and Oprah have been in close contact in recent months, and have formed a close friendship 

‘So what we settled on was this ring, which if you look has a caged bird inside, and for me that was to symbolize my idol Maya Angelou who wrote the great autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. 

‘And that way I could feel like I had Maya close in continuing her tradition.’ 

Oprah – who paid tribute to Amanda in a sweet tweet posted after her performance – also bought her a pair of earrings to wear for the event, which she paired with a bold red headband and a yellow coat, both from Prada. 

‘She was just so generous in making sure I felt prepared, both emotionally and fashionably for the moment,’ Amanda said.  

Oprah was not the only famous face to praise Amanda’s performance. 

Regina King, Barack Obama, John Legend, and Lin-Manuel Miranda were among the high-profile names who took to Twitter to celebrate her inaugural appearance – and Lin-Manuel later surprised the poet with a special video message during her GMA interview. 

‘Congrats on yesterday!’ he told a stunned Amanda.  

Famous fan: Hamilton star Lin-Manuel Miranda was also full of praise for the young poet 

Shock: During her appearance on GMA, Amanda spoke of her reaction at being asked to perform at the inauguration, admitting that she was ‘daunted’ by the ‘honor’ 

Surprise! She received a special message from Lin-Manuel during her interview, in which he told her that she has ‘changed the world’ 

Applause: Barack Obama and Regina King were also among the famous faces to heap praise on the young star – who is now being urged to run for President in 2036

‘The right words in the right order can change the world and you proved that yesterday with your brilliant piece. 

‘I’m so incredibly proud of you and I can’t wait to see what you write next. Keep changing the world one word at a time. You smashed it.’ 

Celebrity supporters aside, Amanda’s inaugural performance has earned her a legion of new fans – and given her career a significant boost. 

In the wake of the event, her Instagram following topped two million, a number that is continuing to climb, and her two upcoming books shot to the top of the Amazon bestseller list, landing in the number one and number two spots. 

Both books are not due to be published until September, however the influx of pre-orders has already turned them into bestsellers. 

The first, entitled The Hill We Climb after her inaugural poem, is her debut collection of poems, while the second is a ‘lyrical picture book’ aimed at children called Change Sings. 

The Hill We Climb: Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem in full 

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


Source: Read Full Article