I had the pleasure of recently interviewing one of the most dynamic figures of our time, Amanda Gorman, who is one of our five Power of Women honorees this year. The 23-year old poet-activist was a pleasure to talk with in two sittings. So much information ended up on the floor that it felt worth sharing.
Some fun facts: Will she be America’s first woman president? “I hope not!” Are there any other projects she is working on? “I’ve been working on a few novels. I love thinking about things for the screen.” Songs on her playlist: Beyoncé’s “Run the World (Girls),” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “My Shot” and Kendrick Lamar and Sza’s “All the Stars.” A favorite TV show of all time: “The Munsters.” Who would she like to play her on-screen? Marsai Martin.
I asked her what question Amanda Gorman would ask her if she had to interview her. “I would ask her how she is taking care of herself, how she’s safeguarding her spirit and time,” says the poet, who has received nonstop requests for public appearances, speaking engagements, magazine covers and book signings ever since she read her phenomenal poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration.
Gorman, for one, says that she enjoys short walks or long walks in her neighborhood with friends. “There’s something about getting your blood flowing, being out in the sunlight. I’ll often do it with music playing in my headphones — that recenters me. I’ve gotten into taking Polaroid photos, though I’m not good at it, but it really forces me to stop and take note of the beauty of the world around me.”
How does she get rid of her hectic brain each night before going to bed? She sets her alarm for 8 p.m. so she can stop sending emails and making calls. “I then start singing my favorite song, ‘Mr. Blue Jay,’ dancing around the living room, then take a long bath or shower and go to bed. It’s just a really great way of building up my joy and keeping that with me into the night.”
What does it mean for Amanda Gorman to be Amanda Gorman
“All of a sudden my name has new meaning embedded into it,” She says. “I’m seeing so many young students saying, ‘I recited in class today, and I was like Amanda Gorman.’ Or I see Instagram posts of people in bright headbands saying, ‘I’m feeling like Amanda Gorman today.’ And if I were to try and say what it meant, it would mean trying to embody who you are in its entirety and shining while you do it.”
Gorman admits to being a perfectionist (she re-wrote that inaugural poem 22 times) and her own worst critic: “So what I’m learning is to be more gentle and more tender with myself and say, ‘You’re doing pretty well, kid.’”
Who could argue with that?