Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Alumna Amanda Gorman Performs at the Biden-Harris Inauguration

Raisa Masood  //  Jan 20, 2021

Scholastic Art & Writing Awards Alumna Amanda Gorman Performs at the Biden-Harris Inauguration

On Wednesday, January 20, Scholastic Art & Writing Awards alumna Amanda Gorman made history by performing at the U.S. presidential inauguration!

In a day of many groundbreaking moments, most notably with Kamala Harris taking office as the first Black, South Asian, and female vice president, Gorman became the youngest known inaugural poet at the age of 22. She joined the esteemed ranks of Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, and Richard Blanco to read poetry at a swearing-in ceremony. The Californian read her original poem, “The Hill We Climb,” addressing healing, unity, racial justice, and other important themes. She ended her recitation with powerful words of hope: "The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it; if only we are brave enough to be it." 

You can watch Gorman’s moving recitation of “The Hill We Climb” at the inauguration ceremony below, via ABC News.

 

 

The star poet and activist is not new to making headlines—in 2017, she was named the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate. She is also the recipient of several Art & Writing awards, which include Gold and Silver Keys in the following categories: Critical Essay, Flash Fiction, Journalism, Personal Essay & Memoir, Poetry, and Short Story. And that’s not all: she even earned a national Silver Medal for Novel Writing in 2016! Check out one of her works of poetry here, which received a Silver Key in 2015:

On a Summer Day’s Pavement
 
On a summer day’s pavement
It never stops shining
As the sky’s curtains close
on a wound pulsing the horizon
hibiscus pink and purple
 
On a summer day’s pavement
ants fry on a cement skillet
where torn bright Mary Jane wrappers
roll like the last dusty breath
of an ancient man
 
On a summer day’s pavement
a busted fire hydrant
douses the worries of squealing naked children
as sweet jazz dances exotically over rooftops
like a graceful, hungry crow
 
On a summer day’s pavement
shadows wither and perish
in the wombs of kitchens flickering warmly
with resurrected stories, hopes, and dreams
shining long after the streetlights have died
 
On a summer day’s pavement
night knows no beginning
nor any end
time is light as a blessed wafer
of Eucharist placed on a believer’s tongue
 
On a summer day’s pavement
clocks are scarred, beaten senseless
with heart palpitations, slap of heel on concrete
double dutch rope skidding undertoes
like slave lovers leaping over a broom
 
On a summer day’s pavement
the sour syrup chime
‘not last night but the night before’
trickles like pride into any
crevice, ditch, closet, ribcage, and throat
 
On a summer day’s pavement
Men wade through leaves
for the blushing skirts
of junebugs and laughing women
skirmishing with sweat, love, and light
 
On a summer day’s pavement
joy skips on the steps
of inevitable doom
lounges on the darkened roof
of an all too familiar solemn song
 
On a summer day’s pavement
I kiss my shadow goodbye as he dies on the road
understanding blooming on the edge of his pupils
for even he knows that here, on a summer day’s pavement
life is just too bright