Famous, local poet Nikki Giovanni reacts to Amanda Gorman’s Inauguration Day poem

‘She doesn’t need me to be, but I am very proud’

BLACKSBURG, Va. – Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate, delivered a moving message on Wednesday during the Inauguration of President Joe Biden.

“It really just choked me up,” said Nikki Giovanni about the young woman’s words.

Giovanni, a world-renowned poet and a university distinguished professor at Virginia Tech, said that Gorman’s poem is what the nation needed to hear.

“She created a balance, a wonderful balance of anger and hope,” explained Giovanni.

With the world’s eyes watching, Giovanni said that Gorman delivered the poem with grace.

[5 things to know about the young inaugural poet Amanda Gorman]

“I thought she handled herself extremely well because you had to know everybody in the world, I mean, every camera was looking at her,” said Giovanni.

She did wish that the late poet Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1950, could have been around to hear Gorman’s poem.

Giovanni added that Gorman’s ancestors are likely looking down proudly.

“All of these people sitting in heaven, watching their baby read that poem. I’m just sure they were incredibly, incredibly pleased,” said Giovanni.

The poem packed a powerful message of resilience and healing for a country divided.

“Things are not where they could be, but we are moving forward,” said Giovanni.

About the Author:

Lindsey joined the WSLS 10 team as a reporter in February 2019 and is thrilled to call Roanoke her new home!