Gorman, 22, the national youth poet laureate and the youngest poet ever to recite at a presidential inauguration, was roundly lauded for the rousing performance of her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Joe Biden’s swearing in.
In an interview on Wednesday on “Anderson Cooper 360,” Gorman described the vision behind the piece, which underlined marching on toward unity, hope and healing amid a damaged and divided nation.
“I felt like that was the type of poem I needed to write, and I felt like that was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she said.
Cooper highlighted the final passage of “The Hill We Climb,” which he said gave him shivers:
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover, in every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country our people diverse and beautiful will emerge, battered and beautiful, when the day comes we step out of the shade aflame and unafraid, the new dawn blooms as we free it, for there is always light if only we’re brave enough to see it, if only we’re brave enough to be it.
“I’m so glad you brought up the last line,” Gorman said. She explained that she ultimately chose “be it” for her conclusion because “hope isn’t something that we ask of others, it’s something that we have to demand from ourselves.”
Cooper also asked Gorman if she could reveal the mantra she’s said to recite prior to her readings.
“I do it whenever I perform, and I definitely did it this time,” Gorman said. “I close my eyes and I say: I am the daughter of Black writers, we are descended from freedom fighters, who broke their chains and changed the world. They call me.”
Cooper, in a stunned silence, managed: “Wow. Um, wow. You’re awesome. I’m so transfixed.”
President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Lin-Manuel Miranda were among those singing Gorman’s praises Wednesday. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared a selfie of herself with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, and Gorman, adding, “She’s promised to run for president in 2036 and I for one can’t wait.”
“President Gorman has a nice ring to it,” Cooper commented.
“Yes, it does,” she replied. “Madam President Gorman. I like the sound of that.”