Meet Amanda Gorman, The Youngest Inaugural Poet In U.S. History

It’s a tradition that a poet speaks at the presidential inauguration. Maya Angelou spoke at the inauguration of Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Alexander spoke at the inauguration of Barack Obama, and Robert Frost spoke at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy Jr.

There will be a poet who will speak at Joe Biden’s inauguration—and she’s going to make history. Her name is Amanda Gorman and at 22, she will be the youngest poet to write and recite a piece at a presidential inauguration.

But who is Amanda Gorman, exactly? Here’s what you need to know about this trailblazing poet.

She’s used to making history.

Fun fact: Gorman became the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles at 16—the youngest ever—and was the first national youth poet laureate three years later, according to the New York Times. In case you’re not familiar with the term, a poet laureate is a poet who is officially appointed by a government or institution. They usually create poems for special events. Basically, it’s a BFD.

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Dr. Jill Biden is a fan.

Jill convinced the inaugural committed that Gorman would be a good fit, according to the Los Angeles Times. In fact, Jill contacted Gorman in December about writing an original poem for her husband’s inauguration after seeing a reading of her poem “In This Place: An American Lyric,” delivered at the Library of Congress in 2017, Vogue reports. “I’m not saying I’m better than anyone else, but I was called by the Bidens for a reason, and this moment has called me for a reason, so all I can do is show up and do my absolute best,” she told Vogue. “That’s all I can ask of myself.”

…and so is Oprah.

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Gorman told Vogue that Oprah sent her a pair of earrings to wear for the inauguration. “Every single time I get a text from [Oprah] I fall on the floor,” she said. “[Fashion] has so much meaning to me, and it’s my way to lean into the history that came before me and all the people supporting me.”

Her mom is a teacher.

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Gorman told the Los Angeles Times that this had a “huge impact” on her and her love of poetry.

She has a speech impediment.

Gorman told the Los Angeles Times that it gives her anxiety about the quality of her work. “For me, there was this other echelon of pressure, which is: Can I say that which needs to be said?” she said, noting that she particularly struggles with the letter R.

“But I don’t look at my disability as a weakness,” Gorman told the Times. “It’s made me the performer that I am and the storyteller that I strive to be. When you have to teach yourself how to say sounds, when you have to be highly concerned about pronunciation, it gives you a certain awareness of sonics, of the auditory experience.”

She’s got amazing style.

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Her Instagram posts are filled with quotes, poems, and information about upcoming talks, but it’s hard to miss the fact that Amanda can pull together some head-turning looks.

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