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Amanda Gorman's inauguration poem launches author to top of book charts

The Guardian logo The Guardian 22/01/2021 Sian Cain
a close up of a person: Photograph: Kelia Anne/AP © Provided by The Guardian Photograph: Kelia Anne/AP

Amanda Gorman, the 22-year-old poet who stole the show with her poem The Hill We Climb at the presidential inauguration on Wednesday, has landed yet another book deal, with her forthcoming debuts shooting straight to the top of the charts.

Hours after she stepped off the dais, publisher Penguin Children’s announced that it would be releasing Gorman’s poem as a hardcover book in spring, with plans to print 150,000 copies in the first run, unprecedented even for a whole poetry collection, “due to overwhelming demand”.

Days before Gorman’s reading, it was also announced that her debut collection, also titled The Hill We Climb, will be published on 21 September in the US. The national youth poet laureate’s first picture book, Change Sings, written as a children’s anthem, is due to come out the same day.

Both books shot to the top of Amazon’s charts within minutes of Gorman taking to the stage, with the poet sharing her reactions to her newfound fame on social media. “I’m dying!” she shouted in one Instagram story, as she watched a newsreader on television read a glowing tweet addressed to her from Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of the musical Hamilton, which inspired part of her poem. In another video, she was filmed staring at Amazon on a laptop, where The Hill We Climb and Change Sings reached No 1 and No 2 respectively on the overall book charts.

“Y’all my Instagram literally is broken, this is not a game, this is not a joke. I just looked up and had one million followers,” she said. “I can’t even post anything … there is so much love and support coming via the app, so thank you so much. This is wild.”

Speaking to CNN host Anderson Cooper after the inauguration, Gorman said that she had grown up with a speech impediment and struggled with the letter R, using the Hamilton song Aaron Burr, Sir to overcome it. “That’s been a huge part of my speech pathology. It’s why I included it in the inaugural poem,” she said.

Joe Biden standing in front of a cake: Joe Biden and Brayden Harrington, pictured in February 2020. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP © Provided by The Guardian Joe Biden and Brayden Harrington, pictured in February 2020. Photograph: Andrew Harnik/AP

Another young author to land a book deal is 13-year-old Brayden Harrington, who made headlines when he spoke at the Democratic National Convention in August. Then, Harrington recalled the impact of meeting Biden years earlier, when the future president reassured him about his stutter, a condition Biden also struggled with. Hours before the inauguration, HarperCollins Children’s Books announced it had negotiated a two-book deal with Harrington, who spoke again in a TV special to mark Biden’s inauguration. The first, titled Brayden Speaks Up, will be a picture book that “celebrates the importance of speaking up and using your voice” and will be published in August. The second is an as yet unnamed novel for eight to 12-year-olds, set to be released in 2022.

a person looking towards the camera: ‘This is wild’ … Amanda Gorman. © Photograph: Kelia Anne/AP ‘This is wild’ … Amanda Gorman.

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