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      “THE HILL WE CLIMB” by Barbara Biddison

      b22 21“She stole the show.” That's what I heard the newscasters say about Amanda Gorman after the Inauguration ceremonies concluded.  She had read her own poem, "The Hill We Climb," which she finished writing after the rioters stormed the halls of Congress.  At age 22 she's the youngest inaugural poet in US history. She reads with wonderful vocal and facial expression and with the conviction of a woman of color saying, in poetry, "We lay down our arms so we can reach out our arms to one another." 

      She, like President Biden, has struggled with a speech impediment, and she like Biden has worked to overcome it.  She says that she read her poem aloud over and over again until she was confident that she would not stumble over the words.  Performing on the same stage as Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez on that inauguration day would give anyone the jitters, but she sailed through her reading with ease.  She's energetic, she's black, she's young, and she says she wants to run for President in 2036.

      Gorman grew up in Los Angeles with two siblings (one a twin), and a school-teacher mother, and she attended a private school in Santa Monica.  She began writing poetry early, and by age 16 was named the Youth Poet Laureate of Los Angeles.  She went on to Harvard to study sociology at which time she was named the National Youth Poet Laureate..  It is easy to find her poem on line, and I encourage all to read it, but here's a sample of the way she presents her hopeful and realistic vision:

      Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
      A nation that isn't broken but simply unfinished.
      We, the successors of a country and 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.

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