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Globe Live Media, Thursday, January 28, 2021
Interest in the 22-year-old poet and demand for her work has not stopped since much of the world met her and her inaugural poem “The Hill We Climb,” whose reading was one of the highlights of the inauguration of Biden.
Two books to be published in September, the illustrated story “The Change We Sing” and a collection of poems including “The Hill We Climb,” have topped Amazon.com in the last week. Release of a separate issue of “The Hill We Climb” was brought forward from April 27 to March 16 and will include a foreword by Oprah Winfrey.
Each of these books will have an initial print run of a million copies, Penguin announced Thursday, a number no poet would dare even fantasize about. Los Angeles-based Gorman, who at age 17 was named a National Young Poet Laureate, says poetry helped her overcome a speech impediment.
“The incredible attention Amanda is receiving as a poet is completely unprecedented,” says Jennifer Benka, president and CEO of the American Academy of Poets, whose website saw a huge increase in visits after the January 20 inauguration. “Her poem and presentation have sparked a response to a poem we have never seen before.”
Gorman’s life has become unusual in other ways as well. She signed a fashion and beauty brand face deal with IMG Models, whose clients include supermodel Kate Moss and tennis star Naomi Osaka, and she will soon appear at another global event: the Super Bowl, where she will read an original poem on the 7th. February in Tampa, Florida, honoring three people – educator Trimaine Davis, chief nurse practitioner Suzie Dorner and Navy veteran James Martin – for their contributions during the pandemic.
Gorman is by far the youngest poet I have read at a presidential inauguration since Robert Frost was invited to John F. Kennedy’s in 1961. The only opening poem that comes close in popularity to “The Hill We Climb” is the of the late Maya Angelou “On the Pulse of the Morning”, which she read at President Bill Clinton’s ceremony in 1993. A print edition went on to sell more than a million copies, although Angelou was already famous at that time for her memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. Gorman had not published any books before this year.
When Gorman read last week, she wore a ring from a caged bird given to her by Winfrey, a friend of Angelou’s.
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