Poet Amanda Gorman Almost Turned Down Speaking at Biden’s Inauguration

In Summary

The youngest poet laureate recounted fears she had prior to speaking at the presidential inauguration. 

Fear almost got the best of the country’s first youth poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration last year, she wrote in a New York Times op-ed last week.   

Gorman said she nearly turned down speaking as that year’s inaugural poet, saying she worried she would fail her community and her poetry by doing it. She also shared her fear about attending the inauguration during the pandemic before vaccines were readily available to people her age.   

“Yet while the inauguration might have seemed like a ray of light, this past year for many has felt like a return to the same old gloom. Our nation is still haunted by disease, inequality and environmental crises. But though our fears may be the same, we are not,” she said.   

Gorman also said that people close to her she should be “ready to die” if she spoke at the Capitol, which was the site of a deadly insurrection a few weeks before by a pro-Trump crowd.   

RELATED: Amanda Gorman Puts Simone Biles’ Greatness Into Words at InStyle Awards 

She was thrust into the national spotlight following her reciting her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” where she called for Americans to come together and “leave behind a country better than the one we were left,” CNN reported.   

“I didn’t know then that I’d become famous, but I did know at the inauguration I was going to become highly visible—which is a very dangerous thing to be in America, especially if you’re Black and outspoken and have no Secret Service,” she wrote in the Times.   

Since the inauguration, Gorman became the first poet to cover Vogue Magazine and the first poet to read a poem at the 2021 Super Bowl.    

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