Local poet faces another big stage — the Super Bowl

By Taylor Goodson

Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES — Amanda Gorman, the young poet who made a stunning debut at President Joe Biden’s Inauguration, has another high-profile appearance on her schedule.

The 22-year-old Los Angeles native will recite another original poem in front of what is normally the largest television audience of the year, the Super Bowl, in Tampa, Florida Feb. 7.

Gorman will recite an original poem prior to the coin flip about three people selected by the NFL as honorary captains for the Super Bowl. The three include Los Angeles teacher Trimaine Davis, nurse manager Suzie Dorner and Marine veteran James Martin.

Gorman’s poem about the three honorees will be “in recognition of their tremendous impact during an unprecedented year,” the NFL said in a statement announcing her appearance. The game will be broadcast locally on Channel 2. Gorman will read her poem just before kickoff, which is scheduled at 3:30 p.m.

On Jan. 20, Gorman became the youngest poet to speak at a presidential inauguration.

“Before we knew it. Somehow, we do it. Somehow, we’ve weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished,” Gorman said at the inauguration, reciting her “The Hill We Climb” poem. The inaugural poem connected with the unity and healing topic that Biden referred to in his inaugural address.

A graduate of New Roads School in Santa Monica, Gorman graduated cum laude from Harvard University last May, where she studied sociology. She has two books coming out this year from Penguin Random House.

Born and raised right here in Los Angeles, Gorman turned to writing at an nearly age to deal with a speech impediment. At 14, she joined a Los Angeles-based creative writing and mentoring organization, WriteGirl, where she attended monthly creative writing workshops on genres ranging from poetry to songwriting.

“WriteGirl has been pivotal in my life,” Gorman said. “It’s been thanks to their support that I’ve been able to chase my dreams as a writer.”

“We’re really excited for her to be performing at the Super Bowl,” said Karen Taylor, founder and executive of WriteGirl. “We’re so glad she is doing exactly what we talk about at WriteGirl — writing what needs to be written at this particular moment in time.”

Gorman was selected in 2014 as the first Los Angeles youth poet laureate and in 2017 as the first national youth poet laureate.

According to Vogue Magazine, Gorman attracted first lady Jill Biden’s attention back in 2017 with her presentation of “In This Place: An American Lyric” at the Library of Congress, which is how she was chosen to recite her poetry at the inauguration.

Among the three people Gorman will write about for her Super Bowl poem, one has Los Angeles ties. Trimaine Davis is a former San Diego State University basketball player and current retention coordinator for VIP scholars at UCLA.

According to the NFL, Davis went to great lengths to ensure students were able to access the internet during the COVID-19 pandemic so they could continue their education. Davis secured hotspots, laptops and tablets for students, and also hosted workshops to ensure that families knew how to use them.

Davis has also worked to improve the academic success of Black students by working with the Cal State Northridge Black Male Initiative, the San Diego State Student African American Brotherhood and the Afrikan Student Union, according to the league.