Amanda Gorman on writing the poem the 'world needed to hear'

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Geraint Vincent

"I came here to do the best with the poem that I could," Amanda Gorman beams.

"To see the support that's been pouring out, I literally can't absorb it all!"

At the age of 22, Ms Gorman has read at the White House during the Obama years, signed two book deals and been the US' youth poet laureate.

She's well known within American literary sphere, yet no one expected her to steal the show at President Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony,

Her poetry reading generated more buzz than turns from Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga and, arguably, President Biden himself.

The poem in question, named 'The Hill We Climb', summoned both dire and triumphant images, while referencing works from the Bible to Hamilton to viral tweets.

Ms Gorman, now the youngest poet to read at a presidential inauguration since 1961, told CNN her writing process involved a huge amount of reading.

"I did a lot of that was making sure I read all the previous inaugural poems, really doing a deep literature dive of other orators who I look up to, whether it be Frederick Douglass or Abraham Lincoln," she told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

  • Amanda Gorman describes her poetry writing process

She began examining how Douglass and Lincoln resonated with "a nation that can feel very divided".

Halfway through that process, pro-Trump rioters stormed Capitol Hill.

"It energised me to believe much more firmly in a message of hope and unity and healing," Ms Gorman said.

"I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country, and the world, needed to hear,"

Many did covet Ms Gorman's words. Plaudits streamed in post-performance, including ones from Oprah Winfrey and Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Her words have elevated her to great height, yet just a few years ago, she struggled to form them.

Ms Gorman grew up with a speech impediment that often saw her "dropping whole swathe of letters".

Amanda Gorman reads her poem during the 59th Presidential Inauguration. Credit: AP

"I couldn't say the letter 'r' until two or three years ago. I still struggle with it, which is difficult when you have a poem in which you say 'rise' five times," she said.

If she struggled on Wednesday, it didn't show. Her poem, especially her final lines, captivated those in the crowd and behind screens.

"The new dawn blooms as we free it/For there is always light if we are brave enough to see it /If only we're brave enough to be it."