Amanda Gorman, the 23-year-old poet whose reading at Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration captured the world’s attention, will release a book of poetry entitled Call Us What We Carry December 7, to be published by Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. The 80-page collection, formerly titled The Hill We Climb and Other Poems, will include her famed inaugural poem as well as exploring “themes of identity, grief, and memory,” according to the publisher. Gorman will narrate the audiobook, which will be published concurrently by Penguin Random House Audio.
In a statement about the upcoming release, Gorman, who was appointed the first National Youth Poet Laureate in 2017 and was the United States’ youngest inaugural poet, said, “I wrote Call Us What We Carry as a lyric of hope and healing. I wanted to pen a reckoning with the communal grief wrought by the pandemic. It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever written, but I knew it had to be. For me, this book is a receptacle, a time capsule both made by and for its era. What is poetry if not a mirror for our present and a message for our future?” The poetry collection will follow the September Viking Books for Young Readers release of Change Sings: A Children’s Anthem, Gorman’s debut children’s picture book, illustrated by Loren Long.
Gorman’s editor, Tamar Brazis, editorial director of Viking Children’s Books, said in the statement, “Amanda Gorman is one of the most exciting voices in American poetry. Even when her poems are tackling themes of conflict and adversity, her message of hope always shines through.”
The new book comes in the wake of the success of Gorman’s The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem for the Country, which was published March 30, and topped numerous bestseller lists, including The New York Times
Gorman dealt with a speech impediment as a child, which she told Oprah Winfrey in an interview she’s grateful for because it “informs my poetry.” Gorman went on to say, “I think it made me all that much stronger of a writer when you have to teach yourself how to say words from scratch. When you are learning through poetry how to speak English, it lends to a great understanding of sound, of pitch, of pronunciation, so I think of my speech impediment not as a weakness or a disability, but as one of my greatest strengths.”
Of the power of poetry, Gorman recently told Net-a-Porter, “I often call it ‘poeting’ because, for me, it is to get involved in a movement. I think back to Audre Lorde, who was so wise in saying that it’s the poets who create a language for pains, emotions and solutions.”
When asked by Michelle Obama in a February Time interview about how to make poetry cool, Gorman, who graduated from Harvard in 2020, responded that “Poetry is already cool. Where we run into trouble is often we are looking through such a tight pinhole of what poems can be. Specifically we’re looking at dead white men. Those are the poems that are taught in school and referred to as classics. We really need to break out of the pathology that poetry is only owned by certain elites. Where we can start is highlighting and celebrating poets who reflect humanity in all of its diverse colors and breadth.”