Amanda Gorman spoke with Pico Lyer on her journey to becoming the youngest inaugural poet.
Amanda Gorman spoke with Pico Lyer on her journey to becoming the youngest inaugural poet.
David Bazemore

Amanda Gorman’s Message to Santa Barbara

On April 30, Amanda Gorman was hosted by UCSB Arts and Lectures at the Arlington Theatre. There, she was interviewed by author Pico Iyer, whose most recent book is “The Half Known Life in Search of Paradise” which is about finding one’s paradise amidst their normal lives.

Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet after she read her poem, “The Hill We Climb” at the 46th presidential inauguration. In addition, Gorman graduated cum laude from Harvard University.

During her interview with Iyer, Gorman discussed the importance of standing up for what is right and setting aside differences to unify the country. To illustrate this, Gorman described her interactions with a neighbor who had previously sent Gorman hate messages on Instagram. Despite their online disagreements, they got along in person and the neighbor was “actually very sweet.”

“We can be different people and still be good neighbors,” Gorman told Iyer.

In her poem, “The Hill We Climb,” the idea of accepting differing viewpoints was expanded upon when Gorman calls on the reader to better the country and leave it in a better condition for the generations of the future.

The planet cannot be saved by a dying people.

— Gorman

“So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with …
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful,” wrote Gorman.

In addition to her advocacy around issues such as racial discrimination and gender inequality, Gorman also told Iyer about her plan to run for president when she is eligible in 2036. These plans were initially released during an interview with Today.

“I remember being around 11 years old, and I was in class talking very passionately as I do about things I wanted to change in the world,” Gorman said during the interview. “My teacher said to me quite jokingly, ‘Ha ha, you should run for president,’ and I said ‘Yes, I should.’”

Amanda Gorman speaking at the Arlington Theatre. Gorman discussed the struggles she faced as a black woman at Harvard. “Harvard didn’t know what to do with me but I knew what to do with Harvard.” (Photographer David Bazemore) (David Bazemore)

One consistent theme throughout the evening was Gorman’s encouragement to the audience to participate in both local and national political issues to instigate change in the country.

“Vote,” Gorman said. “First and foremost, vote.”

Amanda Gorman hopes to pave the way for future generations to follow.

“Heralded as the voice of her generation, poet and activist Amanda Gorman empowers people across the globe with an undeniable message about the power of using your voice to make a difference,” said UCSB Arts and Lectures on their website. “With her message of hope, resilience and healing, Gorman serves as an inspiration to change the world for the better.”

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