After four years fraught with hatred, distrust, and calamity, Amanda Gorman’s poignant inaugural piece “The Hill We Climb” sets a hopeful and spirited tone for the new presidency.
Having joined our nation’s leaders at the Inaugural podium last month dressed in an excellent yellow coat and bedazzled mask, 22-year-old Gorman is the nation’s youngest inaugural poet. A brilliant lyricist and the first National Youth Poet Laureate who has spoken for the Obamas, Malala Yousafzai, and Hillary Clinton, among others, Gorman is undeniably qualified for the position. However, the task of uniting a broken country around a leader — just days after a violent capital insurrection and in the midst of a ravaging pandemic — is herculean, if not impossible. Gorman was up to the task. She delivered an adeptly written message of American resilience and hope with poise and pertinent wisdom.
Rich with literary flair, her lines use rhyme, rhythm, and direct language to develop a dynamic cadence. She glides through her mic-drop moments. Using synonymous movements, her hands tell the story alongside her voice. Gorman drew upon sensitive history, the beauty of America’s landscapes and ideological divisions to paint her portrait. She toes the balance of celebrating our origins and reconciling with their adversities.
“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
In encouraging us to embrace our Americanness — the freedom to right our wrongs and to better our country — Gorman appeals to national unity. Her words evoke my patriotism. I see the America she celebrates. I want to be a part of the America she envisions.
Gorman’s words reflect President Biden’s recurring message of bipartisan unity. His administration needs to embrace her insights and should use “The Hill We Climb” as more than a performance. It needs to be their anthem, their goal. And we, individual people facing America’s wounds, hold responsibility as well. We have the opportunity to gather around Gorman’s words – to use them as a springboard into the dawn of our new day, the beginning of radical healing and justice after a very long, dark night.