Amanda S. C. Gorman (born March 7, 1998) is an American poet and activist. Her work focuses on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. Gorman was the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate. She published the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough in 2015. In 2021, she delivered her poem "The Hill We Climb" at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden. Her inauguration poem generated international acclaim, and shortly thereafter, two of her books achieved best-seller status, and she obtained a professional management contract. In February 2021, Gorman was highlighted in Time magazine's 100 Next list under the category of Phenoms, with a profile written by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Gorman's art and activism focus on issues of oppression, feminism, race, and marginalization, as well as the African diaspora. She has said she was inspired to become a youth delegate for the United Nations in 2013 after watching a speech by Pakistani Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. Gorman was chosen as the first youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014. In 2014 it was reported that Gorman was "editing the first draft of a novel the 16‑year‑old has been writing over the last two years." She published the poetry book The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough in 2015.
In 2014 it was reported that Gorman "aspires to be a human rights advocate."
In 2016, Gorman founded the nonprofit organization One Pen One Page, a youth writing and leadership program. In 2017, she became the first author to be featured on XQ Institute's Book of the Month, a monthly giveaway to share inspiring Gen Z's favorite books. She wrote a tribute for black athletes for Nike and has a book deal with Viking Children's Books to write two children's picture books.
In 2017, Gorman became the first youth poet to open the literary season for the Library of Congress, and she has read her poetry on MTV. She wrote "In This Place: An American Lyric" for her September 2017 performance at the Library of Congress, which commemorated the inauguration of Tracy K. Smith as Poet Laureate of the United States. The Morgan Library and Museum acquired her poem "In This Place (An American Lyric)" and displayed it in 2018 near works by Elizabeth Bishop.
In 2017, Gorman said she intends to run for president in 2036, and she has subsequently often repeated this hope. On being selected as one of Glamour magazine's 2018 "College Women of the Year", she said: "Seeing the ways that I as a young black woman can inspire people is something I want to continue in bed. I don't want to just speak works; I want to turn them into realities and actions." After she read her poem "The Hill We Climb" at President Joe Biden's inauguration in 2021, Hillary Clinton tweeted her support for Gorman's 2036 aspiration.
While at Harvard, Gorman became the first person to be named National Youth Poet Laureate in April 2017. She was chosen from five finalists. In 2017, Gorman won a $10,000 grant from media company OZY in the annual OZY Genius Awards through which 10 college students are given "the opportunity to pursue their outstanding ideas and envisioned innovations".
Gorman has an auditory processing disorder and is hypersensitive to sound. She also had a speech impediment during childhood. Gorman participated in speech therapy during her childhood and Elida Kocharian of The Harvard Crimson wrote in 2018, "Gorman doesn't view her speech impediment as a crutch—rather, she sees it as a gift and a strength." Gorman told The Harvard Gazette in 2018, "I always saw it as a strength because since I was experiencing these obstacles in terms of my auditory and vocal skills, I became really good at reading and writing. I realized that at a young age when I was reciting the Marianne Deborah Williamson quote that 'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure' to my mom." In 2021, Gorman told CBS This Morning co-host Anthony Mason that she used songs as a form of speech therapy, and explained, "My favorite thing to practice was the song 'Aaron Burr, Sir,' from Hamilton because it is jam-packed with R's. And I said, 'if I can keep up with Leslie in this track, then I am on my way to being able to say this R in a poem."
Gorman attended New Roads, a private school in Santa Monica, for grades K–12. As a senior, she received a Milken Family Foundation college scholarship. She studied sociology at Harvard College, graduating cum laude in 2020 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 2019, Gorman spent a semester studying in Madrid, Spain, supported by IES Abroad.
Gorman has spoken of her early attempts at writing being "very Anne of Green Gables", until she discovered the work of Toni Morrison in middle school, when: "I realized then that stories could actually be about people who look like me." Observer.com reported in 2019: "It was in high school that she eventually read the poetry of other black women such as Audre Lorde and Phillis Wheatley, and started writing poems that commented on social justice issues such as intersectional feminism and race." Taking a multidisciplined view to self-expression, Gorman has spoken of the connection between fashion and poetry; in 2019, Vogue magazine noted that Gorman drew inspiration "from icons such as Maya Angelou, the Duchess of Sussex, and Michelle Obama", saying: "Fashion brings a distinct visual aesthetic to language. When I’m performing onstage, I'm not just thinking about my clothing, but what my Wakanda Forever T-shirt and yellow skirt is saying about my identity as a poet."
In 2019, Gorman was chosen as one of The Root magazine's "Young Futurists", an annual list of "the 25 best and brightest young African-Americans who excel in the fields of social justice and activism, arts and culture, enterprise and corporate innovation, science and technology, and green innovation".
In 2020, Gorman presented "Earthrise", a poem focused on the climate crisis.
In May 2020, Gorman appeared in an episode of the web series Some Good News hosted by John Krasinski, where she had the opportunity to virtually meet Oprah Winfrey and issued a virtual commencement speech to those who could not attend commencements due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S.
Gorman read her poem "The Hill We Climb" at the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20, 2021, and is the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration in United States history. Jill Biden recommended her for the inauguration. After January 6, 2021, Gorman amended her poem's wording to address the storming of the United States Capitol. During the week before the inauguration, she told The Washington Post book critic Ron Charles, "My hope is that my poem will represent a moment of unity for our country" and "with my words, I'll be able to speak to a new chapter and era for our nation."
Gorman made the cover of TIME Magazine’s February 2021 issue. In March 2021, Gorman said she was racially profiled by a security guard near her home, and tweeted afterwards, "He left, no apology. This is the reality of black girls: One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat." She later tweeted, "In a sense, he was right. I AM A THREAT: a threat to injustice, to inequality, to ignorance. Anyone who speaks the truth and walks with hope is an obvious and fatal danger to the powers that be. A threat and proud."
In February 2021 the Dutch writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, winner of the 2020 International Booker Prize, who had been chosen to translate Gorman's poem, stepped down from the assignment following criticism that the publisher had chosen a white translator. As noted by the BBC, Rijneveld's decision has "heightened the debate in the Netherlands over the ethics of translation and underlined Gorman's original sentiments of the hills that 'all other black girls' must climb." In March 2021, it was reported that the Spanish publisher Univers after hiring writer Victor Obiols to translate Gorman's poem into Catalan had relieved him of the commission after his translation was delivered and were seeking a replacement translator; as Obiols stated: "They did not question my abilities, but they were looking for a different profile, which had to be a woman, young, activist and preferably black." The request was said to have originated with the US group Viking Books.
Gorman was commissioned to compose an original poem to be recited at Super Bowl LV's pregame ceremony on February 7, 2021, as an introduction to the three honorary captains who would preside over the coin toss. The Washington Post reported that the honorary captains were essential workers "James Martin, a U.S. Marine veteran; Trimaine Davis, an educator; and Suzie Dorner, an ICU nurse manager," and that Gorman delivered the poem in their honor in a recorded video. In advance of presenting her new piece, titled "Chorus of the Captains", Gorman said: "Poetry at the Super Bowl is a feat for art and our country, because it means we're thinking imaginatively about human connection even when we feel siloed."
Soon after Gorman's performance at the inauguration, her two upcoming books, the poetry collection The Hill We Climb and a project for youth, Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, were at the top of Amazon's bestseller list. Both are scheduled to be released in September 2021. A book version of the poem "The Hill We Climb" is scheduled to be released on March 16, 2021, with a foreword by Oprah Winfrey, and each of Gorman's three upcoming books will have first printings of one million copies.