Between Bernie’s mittens, Ella Emhoff’s coat (and iconic Pence mocking), and the president of the United States no longer being a proudly monstrous coup-stoking white supremacist, there were some big wins at yesterday’s inauguration. Of course, as a literary website, we are honor-bound hand it to Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old inaugural poet (and the country’s first Youth Poet Laureate).
Gorman’s poem, “The Hill We Climb,” was appropriately hopeful for an inauguration, though it also spoke to the darkness not only of the last four years but also of the country’s history in full.
That is the promise to glade, the hill we climb if only we dare it because being American is more than a pride we inherit, it’s the past we step into and how we repair it.
The poem included echoes of Maya Angelou’s “Still I Rise” (“we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one / we will rise from the golden hills of the West / we will rise from the windswept Northeast where our forefathers first realized revolution”) as well as two nods to Hamilton (see: this very cute Twitter exchange with Lin Manuel Miranda). You can (and should!) read it in full here.
In addition to the poem itself, Gorman’s stage presence was captivating. So naturally, the world rushed to Amazon (but hopefully also local indies!) to pre-order her two(!) forthcoming books—The Hill We Climb and Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, which are now the numbers one and two best-selling books on the whole site. That’s right: a poetry collection is the number-one best-selling book on Amazon.
Congratulations, Amanda Gorman! (And, of course, America.)