We begin the week here on My Poetic Side with a look at Joe Biden’s choice for Inaugural poet.
Antonia Gorman To Be Inaugural Poet
The poet Antonia Gorman says that the Biden inaugural committee contacted her late last month to ask her to be the inaugural poet at the ceremony, which will take place on Wednesday this week, during which the Biden and Harris administration will take office. Although Gorman has already met several high-ranking political figures in the country, including former first lady Michelle Obama this will be the first time that she has met the Bidens. It is understood that they are fans of her poetry and the recommendation for her to be given the position came from Jill Biden, the incoming first lady.
The inaugural poem will be titled “The Hill We Climb”. Gorman is keeping it a surprise for the big day and has not allowed any of the lines to be previewed yet. The was not given any specific instructions on what she should write. However, the themes of unity and hope were something that the inaugural committee wanted to emphasise, rather than declaring a big hurrah over the departure of the current President.
With the insurrection which took place last week in the US Capitol building, keeping a positive tone may have been a little difficult. However, Gorman says that she was able to draw on it for inspiration in a positive light. There are five minutes allotted to the reading of the poem on the big day. Prior to the events of the 6th of January, she had only written about 3 and half minutes worth; however, she has now been able to complete the poem. Whilst she has chosen, for obvious reasons, not to refer directly to the events that took place that day, she has touched on them briefly.
During some of her previous works, Gorman has honoured her ancestors, looked at her own vulnerability and talked about social issues. She wrote “In This Place (An American Lyric)” for the inauguration of Tracy K Smith, the US Poet Laureate in 2017. The poem condemned the march in Charlottesville which was racially motivated. A small part of which we have reproduced below:
Gorman, who is just 22, was just a few years old when she began writing poetry. When she was 16, she was appointed as a youth delegate to the United Nations. At 19 she became the first youth poet laureate of the US. She is now set to become the youngest inaugural poet, following in the footsteps of Robert Frost, who was the first inaugural poet in 1961 and Maya Angelou who spoke at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993.
She already has plans for her future. She says that she would love to read at the 2028 Olympics which is due to take place in Los Angeles and in 2037 she would like to believe that she could attain a position as the new chief executive at the presidential inauguration. She is planning to tell Biden that she will be back.