After her speeches at the inauguration and the Super Bowl, Americans may want to know more about Amanda Gorman’s poems and where to read them.
Gorman, a Harvard graduate from Los Angeles, made history as the youngest inaugural poet ever at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ inauguration in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, January 20, 2021. During the inauguration at the West Front of Capitol Hill, Biden and Harris 46th President and 49th Vice President of the United States respectively.
But for many viewers, Gorman—who is also the first fictional youth poet laureate—was the breakout star of the event for the powerful reading of her poem, “The Hill We Climb.” After her inauguration speech, Gorman announced that she was publishing a book of poems. The collection, titled The Hill We Climb after her inaugural poem, will be released in September 2021. Preorder it here. Gorman also has a children’s poem book out titled Change Sings. Gorman’s success continued at the Super Bowl LV in February 2021, where she read the original poem, “Chorus of Captains.”
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Gorman called her inauguration speech “probably one of the most important things I’ll ever do in my career.” She continued, “I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years. But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal. It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with.”
Those who were moved by Gorman’s speech, may want to know where to take in her other spoken words. Well, you’ve come to the right place. Ahead, watch and read Amanda Gorman’s poems, such as “We Rise,” “In This Place,” “The Miracle of Morning” and more.
“The Hill We Climb”
“The Hill We Climb” was the inauguration poem Gorman read at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ inauguration on January 21, 2021. In an interview with The New York Times in 2021, Gorman revealed that she wrote the poem for the event but struggled to finish it. She was halfway through the poem when Trump supporters rioted at the capitol in January 2021. She used the event to fuel the rest of the poem, including this line: “We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it.” Read “The Hill We Climb” in full below.
“Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world, when day comes we ask ourselves where can we find light in this never-ending shade? The loss we carry asea we must wade. We’ve braved the belly of the beast. We’ve learned that quiet isn’t always peace. In the norms and notions of what just is isn’t always justice. 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 our 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 will 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 her 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 forest that would shatter our nation rather than share it. Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. 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 it 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 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 wind-swept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution. We will rise from the Lake Rim cities of the Midwestern states. We will rise from the sun-baked South. We will rebuild, reconcile and recover in every known nook of our nation, in 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.”
“The Miracle of Morning”
Gorman has read “The Miracle of Morning” on programs like PBS News Hour and CBS This Morning. The New York Times explained that the poem explored the losses of the current health situation while also highlighting human endurance. Read “The Miracle of Morning” in full below.
I thought I’d awaken to a world in mourning.
Heavy clouds crowding, a society storming.
But there’s something different on this golden morning.
Something magical in the sunlight, wide and warming.
I see a dad with a stroller taking a jog.
Across the street, a bright-eyed girl chases her dog.
A grandma on a porch fingers her rosaries.
She grins as her young neighbor brings her groceries.
While we might feel small, separate, and all alone,
Our people have never been more closely tethered.
The question isn’t if we will weather this unknown,
But how we will weather this unknown together.
So on this meaningful morn, we mourn and we mend.
Like light, we can’t be broken, even when we bend.
As one, we will defeat both despair and disease.
We stand with healthcare heroes and all employees;
With families, libraries, schools, waiters, artists;
Businesses, restaurants, and hospitals hit hardest.
We ignite not in the light, but in lack thereof,
For it is in loss that we truly learn to love.
In this chaos, we will discover clarity.
In suffering, we must find solidarity.
For it’s our grief that gives us our gratitude,
Shows us how to find hope, if we ever lose it.
So ensure that this ache wasn’t endured in vain:
Do not ignore the pain. Give it purpose. Use it.
Read children’s books, dance alone to DJ music.
Know that this distance will make our hearts grow fonder.
From a wave of woes our world will emerge stronger.
We’ll observe how the burdens braved by humankind
Are also the moments that make us humans kind;
Let every dawn find us courageous, brought closer;
Heeding the light before the fight is over.
When this ends, we’ll smile sweetly, finally seeing
In testing times, we became the best of beings.
In a January 2021 interview on Amanpour & Co, Gorman explained that “We Rise” was written after she watched Dr. Christina Blasey Ford testify at the confirmation hearing of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. Read “We Rise” in full below.
It’s no longer fearing because while there’s a lot to lose, for once, this we choose. There’s a lot at stake, but making a difference always takes great courage so we choose to encourage a woman who dares stare fear square in its face. Somewhere, someplace, someone might have used to violence to silence a woman’s screams. But now it seems he can’t quiet his own when the truth is shown. Because when one woman stands, she is never alone. Change is achieved when we believe survivors. Because lies can’t survive their spirit and believers when they hear it. We’ve all heard the game of she said, he said. But today we came to let it be said that lights will be shed when a country is led by survivors of all genders who engender not to keep the truth a secret but who have the courage to speak it. We’ll respect her not just because we list her as a man’s sister, daughter, niece, wife, but because she’s simply someone. A life. We respect a woman’s truth not because we know her in such but because we owe her that much.
“In This Place (An American Lyric)”
Gorman performed “In This Place (An American Lyric” at the Library of Congress in 2017 for Tracy K. Smith’s installation as U.S.Poet Laureate. According to New York Times, Biden’s inaugural committee contacted Gorman after Jill Biden saw another reading she gave at the Library of Congress and asked her to write a piece for the inauguration. Read “In This Place (An American Lyric)” in full below.
There’s a poem in this place—
in the footfalls in the halls
in the quiet beat of the seats.
It is here, at the curtain of day,
where America writes a lyric
you must whisper to say.
There’s a poem in this place—
in the heavy grace,
the lined face of this noble building,
collections burned and reborn twice.
There’s a poem in Boston’s Copley Square
where protest chants
tear through the air
like sheets of rain,
where love of the many
swallows hatred of the few.
There’s a poem in Charlottesville
where tiki torches string a ring of flame
tight round the wrist of night
where men so white they gleam blue—
seem like statues
where men heap that long wax burning
where Heather Heyer
blooms forever in a meadow of resistance.
There’s a poem in the great sleeping giant
of Lake Michigan, defiantly raising
its big blue head to Milwaukee and Chicago—
a poem begun long ago, blazed into frozen soil,
strutting upward and aglow.
There’s a poem in Florida, in East Texas
where streets swell into a nexus
of rivers, cows afloat like mottled buoys in the brown,
where courage is now so common
that 23-year-old Jesus Contreras rescues people from floodwaters.
There’s a poem in Los Angeles
yawning wide as the Pacific tide
where a single mother swelters
in a windowless classroom, teaching
black and brown students in Watts
to spell out their thoughts
so her daughter might write
this poem for you.
There’s a lyric in California
where thousands of students march for blocks,
undocumented and unafraid;
where my friend Rosa finds the power to blossom
in deadlock, her spirit the bedrock of her community.
She knows hope is like a stubborn
ship gripping a dock,
a truth: that you can’t stop a dreamer
or knock down a dream.
How could this not be her city
our American lyric to write—
a poem by the people, the poor,
the Protestant, the Muslim, the Jew,
the native, the immigrant,
the black, the brown, the blind, the brave,
the undocumented and undeterred,
the woman, the man, the nonbinary,
the white, the trans,
the ally to all of the above
Tyrants fear the poet.
Now that we know it
we can’t blow it.
We owe it
to show it
not slow it
hurts to sew it
when the world
skirts below it.
we must bestow it
like a wick in the poet
so it can grow, lit,
bringing with it
stories to rewrite—
the story of a Texas city depleted but not defeated
a history written that need not be repeated
a nation composed but not yet completed.
There’s a poem in this place—
a poem in America
a poet in every American
who rewrites this nation, who tells
a story worthy of being told on this minnow of an earth
to breathe hope into a palimpsest of time—
a poet in every American
who sees that our poem penned
doesn’t mean our poem’s end.
There’s a place where this poem dwells—
it is here, it is now, in the yellow song of dawn’s bell
where we write an American lyric
we are just beginning to tell.
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