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At just 22-years-old, Amanda Gorman became the youngest poet to ever read one of their works at a presidential inauguration on Wednesday. And boy was she a hit.
The Los Angeles-born poet laureate read her five-minute poem "The Hill We Climb," which she told the Associated Press she struggled to finish until after the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6. In fact, she completed the poem in response to the riot that same day, and seemed to make a rather direct reference to the event on Wednesday.
"We've seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it," Gorman read from the Capitol balcony. "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. In this truth, in this faith, we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future, history has its eyes on us."
Gorman was first contacted by the Biden team last month, and was asked to perform an original poem about unity in America. Prior to Wednesday, Gorman spoke with the New York Times and said that she wanted her poem to inspire hope, but that she didn't want to ignore the ugly side of America.
"In my poem, I’m not going to in any way gloss over what we’ve seen over the past few weeks and, dare I say, the past few years," she said. "But what I really aspire to do in the poem is to be able to use my words to envision a way in which our country can still come together and can still heal. It’s doing that in a way that is not erasing or neglecting the harsh truths I think America needs to reconcile with."
Both during and after her reading, social media erupted in praise for Gorman, who went from previously unknown to household name in the matter of minutes. In the ensuing day, she leapt from 100,000 Twitter followers to 1.2 million and moved from 206K Instagram followers to 2.4 million. Her two books also vaulted to the top two spots on Amazon's bestseller list—and they won't even drop until September:
Lin-Manuel Miranda—who was among the throng of people praising Gorman on social media—caught wind of the references she made to Hamilton in the inaugural poem, tweeting his enthusiasm at Gorman directly. "You were perfect," he wrote. "Perfectly written, perfectly delivered. Every bit of it. Brava!"
Check out more of the effusive reactions to Wednesday' breakout start below.