Congratulations to Amanda Gorman!

Amanda Gorman, delivering her poem at the 2021 presidential inauguration. Photo: Thomas Hatzenbuhler, Architect of the Capitol.

This year’s presidential inauguration ceremony had so many connections to the Library, but I would like to highlight one in particular: the recitation of the Inaugural Poem, “The Hill We Climb,” by Amanda Gorman.

In 2017, I met Amanda when she read one of her poems at a Library event. Our Poetry Office staff had suggested Amanda read a poem to kick things off that night. She was the first National Youth Poet Laureate, a program run by Urban Word NYC as an extension of their city and regional poets laureate. Even then, she was a sensation.

The night of the reading, I saw first-hand her power, passion and intensity as she recited her poem, “In This Place (An American Lyric).” And I wasn’t the only one — Dr. Jill Biden saw it too. It led her to ask Amanda to serve as the youngest-ever Inaugural Poet.

I would like to congratulate Amanda on another amazing performance and say how delighted I am that her appearance on the Coolidge Auditorium stage in 2017 led her to the U.S. Capitol yesterday.

Joy Harjo, the U.S. Poet Laureate, soon to start her third term. Photo: Shawn Miller.

Let me also take this opportunity to say more about Joy Harjo, the Library’s current U.S. Poet Laureate. Joy occupies a position established in 1937 that has featured some of our nation’s greatest poets, including Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky and Tracy K. Smith. Joy is the first Native American to hold the position.

Her signature project is “Living Nations, Living Words,” and I invite you to explore its interactive map and collection of recordings featuring 47 contemporary Native poets from across the country. I’m sure you’ll be as inspired as I am by the voices it celebrates.

We are lucky to live in a moment in which the country contains so many poets laureate, a testament to the power of the Library’s laureate position and the many poets who have held it. This week, Amanda showed us the power of poetry and reminded us of what such positions as the National Youth Poet Laureate can offer the country. Kudos to her. I’m happy she stands alongside her poetry elders in promoting the art to all Americans.

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10 Comments

  1. Pamela Brooke
    January 21, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    I was at that amazing 2017 reading. So many “firsts” have happened for me at the Library of Congress. My favorite place in DC. Can’t wait to visit again.

  2. Trish Brock
    January 21, 2021 at 7:53 pm

    Amanda Gorman was amazing! Her poem “Up Hill We Climb” was wonderful to listen too…it was like someone had climbed inside of me and finally put words to how I felt about what I saw on January 6th in our Capitol Bldg. It was such a magnificent relief to say it out loud, yet see this young lady saying the words I had built up inside me. Yet she said them so much better, so animated, so beautiful, so elegantly, so meaningful but without anger, how did she do that? She is so much wiser than her years and so full of grace. It was so lovely to listen to her, to watch her, and to feel her words. Thank you Amanda. Thank you for lifting us up and taking some of the pain we saw that day and rejoicing to the fact we will not be defeated, not then, not now, not ever! You are amazing!

  3. Greg Tobin
    January 21, 2021 at 8:59 pm

    Congratulations to Ms. Gorman for focusing the attention of our nation on beauty, truth (and, of course beauty is truth and truth, beauty) and vision. In words that we will always remember. Brava!

  4. James Bill Ochamgiu
    January 22, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Great.

  5. Teddy Amoloza
    January 22, 2021 at 10:26 am

    I was mesmerized watching her deliver her poem, “The Hill We Climb”. Her choice of words was impressive, the poem eloquently delivered, very effective, passionate and full of genuine emotion. She addressed all our anxieties yet lifted our spirits and encouraged us to be hopeful, “…if only we be it.” Reading the text of her poem would not be as meaningful to me had I not watched her delivery. I have become a fan of this amazing young woman. More power and all the best to the future Madame President!

  6. Julie Rowan-Zoch
    January 23, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    I’m sorry that Poet Laureate Joy Harjo was not invited to recite one of hers as the first Native American to hold the position.

  7. LaVerne McCoy
    January 23, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    I cried tears of joy, gratitude,and hope that her words,”the hill we climb” will forever inspire me to live her spoken words!

  8. Malbina Shaheen
    January 24, 2021 at 1:16 pm

    Congratulations! Amanda. Your inaugural poem: The Hill We Climb was astounding, passionate and beautiful. You presented your poem with eloquence
    poise and grace. You were truly the highlight of the day. Thank you for sharing your profound and moving words with America.

  9. Valrie Ramsay
    January 25, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    Congratulations to Amanda. I felt like I should have know she existed; I did not.
    The poem was, and is, everything!

  10. Susan “su” Swift
    January 28, 2021 at 6:34 pm

    Wow ⭐️ ❤️
    Well done
    Fact u all Y
    U are making differences
    Act u all y
    inspiring to inspire

    Sound never dies
    Making your words eternal
    Thank God for the God in you
    And
    U2
    Your Sister soldier in Christ
    su
    s isters u nited

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