Gorman, who was born and raised in Los Angeles and studied sociology at Harvard, became America’s first-ever national youth poet laureate in 2017. She will become the youngest poet to perform at the swearing-in for US President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on January 20.
According to US reports, it was president-elect Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, who recommended her as his inaugural poet. Gorman will be performing on Wednesday January 20, alongside Lady Gaga, who will be singing the American national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez.
Gorman’s poem, The Hill We Climb, will touch on, although not reference directly, last week’s riots in the US Capitol.
She shared a short extract with the New York Times: “We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, / Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy. / And this effort very nearly succeeded. / But while democracy can be periodically delayed, / It can never be permanently defeated,” she has written.
“I wasn’t trying to write something in which those events were painted as an irregularity or different from an America that I know,” she told the Los Angeles Times.
“America is messy. It’s still in its early development of all that we can become. And I have to recognise that in the poem. I can’t ignore that or erase it. And so, I crafted an inaugural poem that recognises these scars and these wounds. Hopefully, it will move us toward healing them.”
The theme of Biden’s inauguration is America United, and Gorman told the Associated Press that while she hadn’t been told what to write by organisers, she’d been encouraged to emphasise unity as opposed to “denigrating anyone” or declaring “ding, dong, the witch is dead” over the departure of Donald Trump.