Amanda Gorman Opened Up to Michelle Obama About the Pressures of the Spotlight

Amanda Gorman sat down with Michelle Obama for a wide-ranging conversation about poetry, activism, and Gorman's rise as a "symbol of hope."

The remote interview was published as part of Gorman's cover on Time magazine this week, and touched on the pressures Black women can face in the spotlight.

During the conversation, Gorman told the former first lady that she prepared for her star-making inauguration poetry recital by practicing in the mirror the night before.

"When I first wrote the poem, I was thinking that in the week leading up to the Inauguration I would be rehearsing every day," she said. "But everything was moving so quickly, I actually didn't get to really sit down with the text until the night before. Most of my preparation was stepping into the emotionality of the poem, getting my body and my psyche ready for that moment. There was a lot of the night-before performing in the mirror."

On Thursday, Mrs. Obama shared the conversation on Twitter along with a photo of herself and Barack Obama with Gorman and Gorman's mother at the inauguration, writing, "Like so many of you, I was moved as I watched @TheAmandaGorman read her poem at the inauguration. I first met her back in 2016, and over the years, I've seen her continue to inspire people with her words. I'm so proud of the young woman she has become."

The former first lady also asked Gorman's thoughts on her quick rise to becoming a "symbol of hope," asking the poet, "I know a thing or two about having that kind of pressure put on you, and it isn't always easy. How are you handling it?"

"When you're first rocketed into a type of visibility, you're trying to represent your best self without having the best resources," Gorman replied. "For Black women, there's also the politics of respectability—despite our best attempts, we are criticized for never being put-together enough; but when we do, we're too showy. We're always walking this really tentative line of who we are and what the public sees us as. I'm handling it day by day. I'm learning that "No" is a complete sentence. And I am reminding myself that this isn't a competition. It's me following the trajectory of the life I was meant to lead."

After capturing hearts everywhere with her poem "The Hill We Climb," Gorman will be reciting a poem at the Super Bowl this weekend. At 22, she is the nation's youngest inaugural poet.

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