Within hours of Amanda Gorman’s reading of the inaugural poem, bookstores were inundated, Penguin scrambled to bring forward print runs, she's been signed up by IMG Models, and she's landed the Super Bowl gig next weekend too. And the year has hardly started!
Interest in the 22-year-old Gorman and demand for her work has not slowed down since millions discovered her and The Hill We Climb, a highlight of Joe Biden's inauguration ceremony. Two books scheduled for September, the picture story The Change We Sing and a poetry collection featuring The Hill We Climb, have occupied the top two spots on Amazon.com for the past week. The release of the fourth-ranked book, a standalone edition of The Hill We Climb, has been moved up from 27 April to 16 March and will include a foreword from Oprah Winfrey.
Penguin announced that each of the three books will have first print runs of 1 million copies, numbers that virtually no poet would dare even fantasize about. Gorman, who at 17 became the country’s National Youth Poet Laureate, is a longtime Los Angeles resident who credits poetry with helping her work on a speech impediment, reports AP News.
“The incredible attention Amanda is receiving as a poet is entirely unprecedented,” says Jennifer Benka, president and executive director of the Academy of American Poets, which saw traffic on its website soar after her appearance at the inauguration. “Her poem and presentation has provoked a response to a poet we’ve never seen.”
Gorman’s life has become unusual for a poet in other ways too: She has signed a deal for fashion and beauty endorsement with IMG Models, where other clients include model Kate Moss and tennis star Naomi Osaka, and she will soon be appearing at another global event: she will read an original poem on 7 February at the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida.
Gorman is by far the youngest of the poets to read at presidential inaugurations since Robert Frost was invited to John F. Kennedy’s in 1961. The only inaugural poem to approach the popularity of The Hill We Climb is the late Maya Angelou’s On the Pulse of the Morning, which she read at the 1993 ceremony for President Bill Clinton. A bound edition went on to sell more than 1 million copies, though Angelou at the time was already famous for her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Gorman had never published a book before this year.
When Gorman read last week, she wore a caged bird ring given to her by Oprah Winfrey, a friend of Angelou’s.
If you missed Gorman's show-stealing performance at Joe Biden's inauguration or you would simply just like to enjoy it again, here it is: