Amanda Gorman says speech impediment ‘greatest strength’ during Oprah sit down
The young poet says that her greatest challenge is what made her who she is today
Amanda Gorman refuses to let anything hold her back.
The poet laureate who stunned America with her poem “The Hill We Climb,” at Joe Biden’s inauguration sat down with Oprah Winfrey to discuss how her disability has made her journey far from easy, per People.
“I was born early, along with my twin, and a lot of times, for infants, that can lead to learning delays,” said Gorman during an upcoming episode of Winfrey’s Apple TV+. show The Oprah Conversation.
“One of my delays was in speech and speech pronunciation, and also the auditory processing issue just means I really struggle as an auditory learner.”
Winfrey gifted Gorman with the caged bird-shaped ring and a pair of earrings she wore to the inauguration.
“Amanda Gorman is a young woman who stepped into a moment in history with enormous grace and dignity,” said Winfrey in a statement. “I was enthralled by her youthful spirit from the first moment we met, and very much looked forward to hearing her unpack all that has happened to her the past few months.”
Gorman was diagnosed with a speech impediment and auditory processing disorder as a child. She says she struggled with pronouncing “sh”and “r.”
“Specifically ‘r’ because it is one of the most complex letters in the English alphabet,” she confesses. “That was something that I would struggle with until probably 20 years of age.”
“When you have a last name like Gorman, when you are writing poetry — all of the things that constitute my identity — when you go to a school like Harvard, which has two [of the letter r] in it, it leads to all these kinds of roadblocks.”
She considers her struggle with speech as her greatest strength.
“I’m really grateful for that experience because it informs my poetry,” said Gorman. “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.”
But despite Gorman’s success she has still been subjected to discrimination.
As per theGrio, “A security guard tailed me on my walk home tonight. He demanded if I lived there because ‘you look suspicious,’” the 22-year-old National Youth Poet Laureate tweeted earlier this month. “I showed my keys & buzzed myself into my building. He left, no apology. This is the reality of Black girls: One day you’re called an icon, the next day, a threat.”
Gorman is a native of Los Angeles, California.
Several minutes after sharing what had happened to her, Gorman followed up with another tweet: “In a sense, he was right. I AM A THREAT: a threat to injustice, to inequality, to ignorance. Anyone who speaks the truth and walks with hope is an obvious and fatal danger to the powers that be.”
Gorman’s tweets quickly went viral and the young poet was flooded with messages of sympathy and support for what she experienced.
White House correspondent Yamiche Alcindor tweeted, “Amanda Gorman’s experience is that of so many Black people. Happy she made it home safely. So many others don’t.”
Additional reporting by Gerren Keith Gaynor
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