Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman's Impact on Social Issues Through Poetry


Dec. 22 2023, Published 7:35 p.m. ET

While still young, Amanda Gorman has achieved a lot in her career as a poet. Born in 1998 in Los Angeles, Calif., she grew up reading and writing, which would lead her into poetry. Over the years, she continued to hone her skills. In 2015, she published her first poetry book, "The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough."

To share her passion for poetry and writing in general, Amanda founded the One Pen One Page nonprofit organization in 2016. The organization's main focus is to provide free creative writing programs to underprivileged youth.

Importantly, the nonprofit organization gave her the first avenue to use poetry to tackle social inequality in a meaningful and practical way.

She was the inaugural Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate and held the position between 2014 and 2015. The position allowed Amanda to work with the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations to develop youth programs.

At 17 years old, Amanda was also named the National Youth Poet Laureate.

In 2016, Amanda enrolled at Harvard University and studied, graduating cum laude in 2020

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U.S. Presidential Inauguration

At the 2020 U.S. presidential inauguration, Amanda joined a small group of poets to recite their work at a presidential inauguration, including Maya Angelou, Robert Frost, Miller Williams, Richard Blanco, and Elizabeth Alexander. However, being 22 years old, she became the youngest inaugural poet.

Her poem was a passionate call for unity and social change. She sought to foster a sense of collective purpose and hope amid the deadly 2020 pandemic, partisan division, and political violence.

In an interview with the Washington Post in the days leading to the inauguration, Amanda said she hoped her poem would be a moment of unity of the country and her words would speak "a new chapter and era for our nation."

Super Bowl Poem

In 2021, she presented an original during the Super Bowl, celebrating the honorary captains Trimaine Davis, nurse manager Suzie Dorner, and Marine veteran James Martin. Her poem not only highlighted the community leadership the three had shown during the global pandemic but also celebrated their efforts to impart positivity in their communities.

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Devout Activism Through Poetry

Aside from making high-profile public recitals of her original poems, she has used her undeniable ability to connect with the masses to speak about social issues. As a renowned activist, she uses her poetic talents to shine a light on social ills ranging from sexism, racism, police brutality, and animal cruelty. She uses her art to pique people's interest in the issues she holds dear to heart.

Amanda has followed the long tradition of poets speaking about current issues and the political climate in her work to push for and inspire positive change. Like many poets in the past have done, she is very vocal in agitating for justice while being positive-minded.

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Speaking with Variety, she noted, "It's quite easy when you turn on the news to see a world that is vengeful and scarred and poisoned."

She continued, saying, "That's what gets the shares, the headlines. But as much evil as I see, there is far more good. I just have to make myself willing and open to seeing it."

Climate Activism

She is also a renowned activist for climate change issues. Amanda has presented climate crisis-centric poems on numerous occasions. For instance, she recited "Earthrise" at the Los Angeles Climate Reality Leadership Corps Training (2018) and TED Conference.

At the 2022 United Nations General Assembly, she performed her "An Ode We Owe" poem, which touches on issues of poverty, climate change, and how the young citizens of the world can help stem the tide of climate change.

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Her poem weaved in many of the issues she cared about, creating a complete picture of her view to her audience. Speaking to NPR.Org, Amanda said she tried to paint a picture that put "inequality, youth empowerment, sustainability all in conversation with each other."

She continued, saying, "That is to say, in order to fight climate change, we have to fight poverty. We have to fight hunger. We have to fight the prejudicial isms of the world," before concluding, "And if we do it together, then it can absolutely be done."

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