On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman became the sixth and youngest poet, at age twenty-two, to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential inauguration. Her inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” is now available to cherish and gift in this special edition, according to Gorman’s website.
“This little book debuts in just a few hours and I couldn’t be more grateful,” Gorman captioned an Instagram of her in an Alice + Olivia mock neck mini dress holding a physical copy of the poem on Monday, March 29. “When I wrote “The Hill We Climb,” I didn’t even think a special edition poem booklet would be possible, let alone ever imagined that a single poem could skyrocket on best-seller lists before it even hit bookstores.”
She continued: “I’m so happy that now this poem will be able to sit in people’s homes, hearts and hands in a new way. Growing up, being able to have a well-loved (and often well worn) copy of my favourite books meant the world to me. It’s a dream-come-true that my work will now be read and held by others. To everyone who has supported my voice, thank you thank you thank you — you have made my dream possible.”
First Lady Michelle Obama interviewed Gorman for TIME magazine ahead of the poet’s performance at the Super Bowl and when she asked Gorman how she was able to mentally prepare to deliver such a moving speech that captivated the world (seriously, the world!), Gorman, of course, was eloquent.
“When I first wrote the poem, I was thinking that in the week leading up to the Inauguration I would be rehearsing every day,” she explained to Obama. “But everything was moving so quickly, I actually didn’t get to really sit down with the text until the night before. Most of my preparation was stepping into the emotionality of the poem, getting my body and my psyche ready for that moment. There was a lot of the night-before performing in the mirror.”
Gorman said she also was able to dig deep into her wealth of personal history for inspiration thanks to a saying, inspired by Lin Manuel’s “Song of the Ancestors,” on the Moana soundtrack. “So my mantra is: ‘I’m the daughter of Black writers who are descended from Freedom Fighters who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me,'” Gorman continued. “I say that to remind myself of ancestors that are all around me whenever I’m performing.”
Gorman makes it a point to think of the big picture so she is not overwhelmed by the sudden rush of visibility.
“I would say anyone who finds themselves suddenly visible and suddenly famous, think about the big picture,” she told Obama back in February for TIME. “Especially for girls of colour, we’re treated as lightning or gold in the pan—we’re not treated as things that are going to last. You really have to crown yourself with the belief that what I’m about and what I’m here for is way beyond this moment,” she stressed.
“I’m learning that I am not lightning that strikes once. I am the hurricane that comes every single year, and you can expect to see me again soon” — and most definitely bestseller lists with “The Hill We Climb.”
Click here to purchase a copy.