Poet Amanda Gorman delivered “The Hill We Climb” at the Inauguration. She was the nation’s first youth poet laureate at 19, which she was awarded in 2017. We talk with Alberto Rios, Virginia Piper Center for Creative Writing at ASU & Arizona’s Poet Laureate, about the history of inauguration poems, why we have them, and what they do for us– as a way to unite us all and string a common thread of creativity through us.
Rios says the poem was “straight on”. We talk about what makes are good political poem. Rios says a good political poem tells us why and explains what we should do, speaks to personal vision, and “strikes a cord” with something that everyone recognizes.
Rios says there has not been a lot of presidents who have used inaugural poets, only four presidents. The first inaugural poem read was at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961 by Robert Frost. Rios talks about Frosts ties to Arizona. We talk more about the history of the inaugural poems and what made this inaugural poem special.