Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman Reveals Hamilton Lyric That Helped Her Overcome Speech Impediment

Amanda Gorman, whose poem captivated the nation during Joe Biden's 2021 Presidential Inauguration, says she used Hamilton to overcome a speech impediment.

By Ryan Gajewski Jan 21, 2021 6:15 AMTags
Watch: 5 Things to Know About Inauguration Poet Amanda Gorman

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.'"

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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.

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"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."