Amanda Gorman exclusive: the poet and activist on a life-changing year

Appearing on the cover of this week’s Stylist magazine to celebrate the release of her powerful new poetry book, Call Us What We Carry, Amanda Gorman talks about her truly remarkable year and what she’s got her sights set on next. 

This time a year ago, not many people knew the name Amanda Gorman, but from her family home in LA the young poet was quietly crafting what would become the most important piece of work of her life.

When she stepped up to the presidential podium in Washington DC on 20 January 2021, the eyes of almost 40 million people were on her, but the 23-year-old didn’t give away a flicker of nerves: she knew how historic the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris was, and what it would mean to Black women and girls across America and the world to see her up there. She also knew exactly what those 40 million onlookers needed in the midst of lockdowns and relentless news headlines: hope. And so she proceeded to give it to us. 

The Hill We Climb, a lyrical poem about the promise of change that referenced the pandemic, racial injustice and climate change, captured the world’s imagination – as did Gorman. She was stunned to return to her seat that day on Capitol Hill and find that her phone had crashed thanks to an influx of two million new Twitter followers in the five minutes she’d been on stage. Almost a year on, she’s co-hosted at the Met Gala and performed at the Superbowl, been interviewed by Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey and graced the covers of Vogue, Time and now Stylist

Amanda Gorman in Stylist magazine

“It’s been overwhelming at times, but incredibly rewarding and humbling to see all the impact a single poem can have,” she tells Stylist of her remarkable year in the spotlight. With her inaugural poem now in print, her children’s book Change Sings topping the NYT bestseller list and now her first hardback collection, Call Us What We Carry, out this week, Gorman’s star continues to rise.

To read about how she grapples with creative blocks and carves out time for self-care, the reaction of her childhood friends to her sudden fame and how she’s already got the backing of Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi for a future run at the presidency, download the latest issue of Stylist now.     

    Images: Instagram, Getty, Stylist, Djeneba Aduayom

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