June 08, 2022

#08-213: "The Hill We Climb"

Gorman reciting "The Hill We Climb" at Joe Biden's inauguration

Note: Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old from Los Angeles, rocketed to national fame when she read a poem she composed at the presidential inauguration in January, 2022.

Get Ready: Do you like to read poetry? Have you ever written your own poems?

On January 21, 2021, at the inauguration of U.S. President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Amanda Gorman--a 22-year-old Black girl from Los Angeles, California--stepped up to the microphone and began to read:

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade....

These are the opening words of the young poet's work, "The Hill We Climb." She went on for around five minutes, 723 words, using rhythms and rhyme patterns like those made popular in the works of playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton).

She was America's first National Youth Poet Laureate, an honor given each year since 2017 to an outstanding high-school poet, who then embarks on a year of service as a national youth poetry ambassador. (There have been five since Gorman was selected; all six are young women.)

The poem she recited mentions events in the nation's history, from its beginning until those just a few weeks before her presentation. She also speaks of her own heritage as a descendant of enslaved Americans, and having been raised by a single mother.

She expresses her dreams for the future, and the responsibility of people in our own time to make those dreams a reality:

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us,
but what stands before us...
For while we have our eyes on the future,
history has its eyes on us.

Since the inauguration, Gorman has been a busy woman, so much so that the executive director of the National Youth Poet Laureate organization has said her "bio goes out of date every two weeks." She composed and performed an original poem for the Super Bowl; has been featured on the cover of several magazines, including Time and Vogue; became the spokesperson for a global cosmetics company; and appeared as co-host of a fundraising gala called "the world's most prestigious fashion event." And she continues to write.

"The Hill We Climb" ends with these lines:

For there is always light,
if only we're brave enough to see it.
If only we're brave enough to be it.


Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. ambassador
  2. bio
  3. descendant
  4. embarks on
  5. gala
  6. gazes
  7. inauguration
  8. never-ending
  9. Poet Laureate
  10. prestigious

  1. steady looks; stares
  2. a grand festive occasion
  3. the offspring of an ancestor
  4. a representative
  5. a resume; a CV
  6. important; highly honored
  7. a ceremony to install someone in office
  8. not stopping
  9. an official poet
  10. sets out on; begins

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for June 8, 2022

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. d; 2. e; 3. c; 4. j; 5. b; 6. a; 7. g; 8. h; 9. i; 10. f