Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman was not throwing away her shot.
The 22-year-old writer caught the nation's attention while delivering her stirring "The Hill We Climb" at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration on Wednesday, Jan. 20 to celebrate the swearing-in of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
During an interview with CNN after the event, the first national youth poet laureate told Anderson Cooper that she dealt with a speech impediment until about two or three years ago, and that she overcame it with the help of a certain Tony-winning musical about American history.
"It was as recent as college that I was still struggling to say the 'R' sound, and so one thing that I would do to try to train myself to say it, is I would listen to the song 'Aaron Burr, Sir,' which is just packed with R's," she explained. "And I would try to keep up with Leslie Odom Jr. as he's doing this amazing rap, and I'd say, 'If I can train myself to do this song, then I can train myself to say this letter.'"
Amanda went on to explain that this is part of the reason her inaugural poem contains references to Lin-Manuel Miranda's beloved theatrical production, and that she remains in awe of "My Shot," which is one of the musical's signature numbers.
"And so that's been a huge part of my own speech pathology," she continued. "It's why I included it in the inaugural poem. Also, beyond that, I think Hamilton is just such a great American cultural piece of what it means to be a better country. It was really hard for me not to just copy and paste 'My Shot' and email it to the committee. Like, 'Here's my poem, here we go!' But I cite my sources, which is why I tweeted about Hamilton. I'm really proud to incorporate that in there."
Amanda, who is the youngest inaugural poet, took to Twitter after delivering the work and tagged Lin-Manuel with, "Did you catch the 2 @HamiltonMusical references in the inaugural poem? I couldn't help myself!"
One such reference is her line, "History has its eyes on us," which calls to mind the musical's number, "History Has Its Eyes on You."