HBCU President Offers Amanda Gorman Job as Poet-in-Residence
The president of Morgan State University extended an employment offer to Amanda Gorman shortly after the inaugural poet's celebrated performance on Wednesday.
In a message shared to Twitter, David Wilson joined millions of social media users who praised Gorman's inspiring reading during President Joe Biden's inauguration. The college president also offered the national youth poet laureate and recent Harvard graduate a staff position as Morgan State's poet-in-residence. Whether Gorman has responded to the offer yet was not immediately clear.
"Ms. Gorman, I need you as our Poet-in-Residence at the National Treasure, @MorganStateU," Wilson tweeted, tagging Gorman's account. Referencing her poetry reading, which was a focal point of Wednesday's televised event outside of the U.S. Capitol, the university president added, "Outstanding!!!!! Consider this a job offer!"
Morgan State, located in Baltimore, belongs to a network of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Two of its students were named Baltimore's youth poet laureate in 2016 and 2017. Gorman's writing earned her the national honor in 2017, when she became the country's first youth poet laureate. Three young women poets have succeeded her in the role.
Wilson told Newsweek that the university, which is home to a thriving spoken-word community, had not received a response from Gorman as of Thursday afternoon.
"I'm not surprised," he said, describing the poet as "brilliant" and acknowledging that her performance moved and impressed so many. "I'm gathering that she must have been tagged [in social media posts] 10 million times."
The university president said Gorman would be its debut poet-in-residence if she decided to take the job. Discussions about creating the position had been in the works at Morgan State before Wednesday's inauguration, but watching Gorman's performance inspired Wilson and other university officials to finalize their plans.
He told Newsweek that the school aims to launch a program where student poet laureates are named annually and noted that an undergraduate would likely be chosen as its first poet-in-residence if Gorman is unable to fill the role. Still, Wilson said the Biden inauguration poet would be the perfect fit in beginning a tradition at his university and explained why her inauguration reading was particularly poignant for him.
"As I listened to her poem, 'The Hill We Climb,' I thought that it was a great example of the intersectionality of democracy, of racism, of optimism and of social inequalities that this nation is undergoing," Wilson said. He made reference to Vice President Kamala Harris making history as the first woman, first Black and first Asian-American to assume the position, as well as the national conversation about racism that came to a head during the latter part of Donald Trump's presidency.
Wilson highlighted Gorman's ability to touch on critical issues the country is facing while simultaneously empowering her listeners.
"She brought all that together in such a beautiful, moving way and, along the path of her poem, challenged us to see the light," the university president said.
At 22, Gorman is the country's youngest inaugural poet, meaning she was formally asked to produce and recite original work at a presidential swearing-in ceremony. Three former presidents—John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama hosted poets during their own inaugurations before Biden's this week.
Gorman followed in the footsteps of such acclaimed writers as Maya Angelou and Robert Frost, reciting her poem "The Hill We Climb." The reading drew instant commendation from audiences across the globe.
Gorman gained roughly 1 million followers on Twitter between Wednesday and Thursday, as the praise continued to pour in. New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was among numerous public figures who have recently followed Gorman's account. Oprah Winfrey, Lin-Manuel Miranda and the Obamas were some of the notable personalities who reacted enthusiastically to the young poet's reading.
Gorman's upcoming children's book, Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, and a poetry collection also titled The Hill We Climb have climbed to the top of the Amazonand Barnes & Noble's bestseller lists since early Wednesday. Penguin Random House will release both books this September. Gorman's first book of poems, The One for Whom Food Is Not Enough, was published in 2015.