22-year-old youth poet laureate Amanda Gorman made history, today, as the youngest poet to read at an inauguration when she recited her poem “The Hill We Climb” at the 46th inauguration ceremony. Gorman’s eloquent words captured the sentiment of a people desperately seeking unity in the wake of a polarizing presidency that led to a violent insurrection. The young Black scribe gave her riveting performance wearing a yellow Prada coat and red Prada headband that cradled her crocheted bun. Her jewelry, gifted to her from Oprah, was even more significant.
The spirited poet wore a ring in the shape of a caged bird from Of Rare Origin and a pair of gold hoop earrings from Nikos Koulis, CNN reports. Oprah took to Twitter to praise Gorman and share how proud Maya Angelou must be watching from the heavens. “Maya Angelou is cheering — and so am I,” she tweeted.
In 1993, Oprah sent Angelou a Chanel coat and gloves sparking a tradition she would continue with Gorman. In an interview with Vogue on the eve of the inauguration, Gorman opened opened up about what it’s like having Oprah on text.
“Every single time I get a text from [Oprah] I fall on the floor,” said Gorman. “[Fashion] has so much meaning to me, and it’s my way to lean into the history that came before me and all the people supporting me.”
As for her inspiring poem, Gorman called it a “daunting” task. “There are all these different kinds of layers of stress that are on the American people right now. It was a hill I had to climb in itself.”
Barack Obama posted the clip of Amanda Gorman’s poem on being timely and appropriate for the climate.
Gorman may have been stressing about writing a poem that would reflect the current times and serve the poets like Maya Angelou and Elizabeth Alexander who came before her — and she certainly prevailed.