Jan 20, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Poet Amanda Gorman says she considered not performing at Biden inauguration

Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman. Photo: Amy Sussman/WireImage

Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman said in a New York Times op-ed out Thursday that she considered pulling out from the event for fear of what would happen.

Why it matters: For many people, Gorman's recital of "The Hill We Climb" was a standout moment at President Biden's inauguration.

What they're saying: "I was scared of failing my people, my poetry. But I was also terrified on a physical level," Gorman wrote, pointing to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Capitol riot that had taken place just weeks before.

  • "I did know at the inauguration I was going to become highly visible — which is a very dangerous thing to be in America, especially if you’re Black and outspoken and have no Secret Service," she added.
  • Gorman recounted how friends and family worried for her life and safety leading up to the event, adding that she herself suffered from "insomnia and nightmares, barely ate or drank for days."

The bottom line: "The night before I was to give the Inaugural Committee my final decision felt like the longest of my life."

  • "And then it struck me: Maybe being brave enough doesn’t mean lessening my fear, but listening to it. ... What stood out most of all was the worry that I’d spend the rest of my life wondering what this poem could have achieved. There was only one way to find out."
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