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From Student at Harvard to Poet at Biden-Harris Inauguration: How Amanda Gorman Shot to Fame

Amanda Gorman on Inauguration Day | Image credit: AP

Amanda Gorman on Inauguration Day | Image credit: AP

She is the youngest poet ever to recite at a presidential inauguration, a role first given to Robert Frost by John F. Kennedy in 1961.

If you watched the Biden-Harris inauguration to the US Presidential cabinet, one thing you wouldn't have missed would be the young poet in a yellow coat: Amanda Gorman.

Amanda Gorman, the young Black poet who performed at President Joe Biden's inaugural, has become an overnight star with her works shooting to the top of Amazon bestseller lists ahead of their publication.

Gorman, 22, recited "The Hill We Climb" at the inaugural, a poem inspired by the US Capitol attack touching on how democracy "can never be permanently defeated."

She is the youngest poet ever to recite at a presidential inauguration, a role first given to Robert Frost by John F. Kennedy in 1961.

The Harvard University graduate was invited to participate after First Lady Jill Biden saw one of her readings.

A collection of Gorman's poems to be published in September was number one on the Amazon bestseller list on Friday followed by a children's book, "Change Sings: A Children's Anthem," also to be released in September.

A hardcover copy of her inaugural poem to be released next month is number three on the list.

Gorman's works knocked former president Barack Obama's autobiography, "A Promised Land," down to the number five position.

America's first Black president was one of the many Americans left impressed by Gorman.

"On a day for the history books, @TheAmandaGorman delivered a poem that more than met the moment," Obama tweeted, before quoting the closing line of Gorman's inaugural poem.

"Young people like her are proof that 'there is always light, if only we're brave enough to see it; if only we're brave enough to be it,'" Obama said.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai were among those praising the young poet.

As she was making a place in the history books for herself, there was something rapidly happening over her social media page.

The poet's not-so-huge Instagram account blew up in a matter of seconds, with thousands of new, curious folks joining in to follow Gorman's journey on her social media. Her poem was set to music by Rostam Batmanglij.

Also Read: Poet Amanda Gorman's Phone Conked Off as She Turned Overnight Star at Biden-Harris Inauguration

Originally from Los Angeles, raised by a single mother, Gorman had a speech impediment as a child -- like the 46th president -- and turned to writing. Biden and Gorman have another thing in common. They have both broken the stereotype and popular beliefs about age. While Gorman is the first Young National Poet, Biden is the oldest President United States has ever had.

Read: How Biden, Amanda Gorman Overcame Their Speech Impediments and Inspired a Nation

She won her first poetry prize at 16 years old and went on to study sociology at Harvard.

She has previously written about the struggle for racial equality and the #MeToo movement against sexual assault.

Gorman was forced to extensively revise her poem at the last minute after supporters of president Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol on January 6 in a bid to undo Biden's election victory.

"We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it / Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy," she recited.

"And this effort very nearly succeeded / But while democracy can be periodically delayed, / It can never be permanently defeated.

(With inputs from AFP)

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