Poet Amanda Gorman thanks Oprah Winfrey for caged bird ring symbolising Maya Angelou she wore to inauguration

Winfrey gave Maya Angelou a gift before her own inaugural performance in 1993

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 21 January 2021 15:59 GMT
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman’s amazing ceremony reading

When Amanda Gorman took to the stage on Inauguration Day, she did so while wearing a sentimental gift from Oprah Winfrey.

On Wednesday, Gorman, 22, made history when she performed her poem "The Hill We Climb” during the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

For the performance, the youngest-ever inaugural poet dressed in a yellow double-breasted Prada coat, which she paired with a satin red statement headband also from the designer.

She accessorised the look with jewellery gifted to her by Winfrey, who gave the young poet gold and diamond hoop earrings and a caged bird ring, in honour of Maya Angelou and her book, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings".

The gifts were especially meaningful as Winfrey had also given Angelou a gift ahead of her own performance at Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993, according to CBS News’ Gayle King, who revealed that the former talk-show host had given the late poet a Chanel coat and a pair of gloves.

Following Gorman’s performance, Winfrey was among those praising the 22-year-old, writing on social media: “I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise! Brava Brava, @TheAmandaGorman! Maya Angelou is cheering – and so am I.”

Winfrey’s praise prompted an emotional response from Gorman, who expressed her gratitude for the gift while honouring “the women who have climbed my hills before”.

“Thank you! I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in. While reciting my poem, I wore a ring with a caged bird – a gift from @Oprah for the occasion, to symbolise Maya Angelou, a previous inaugural poet. Here’s to the women who have climbed my hills before,” Gorman wrote.

During an appearance on Good Morning America Thursday, Gorman again touched on the ring she’d received from Winfrey, revealing that it was especially sentimental because Angelou is one of her idols.

“Oprah wrote to me and we have been in touch for a while now, saying: ‘I bought Maya Angelou’s coat and gloves when she performed the poem at Clinton’s inauguration, I would love to continue the tradition and buy something for you.’ We settled on this ring,” Gorman recalled. “[It] has a caged bird inside, that symbolises my idol Maya Angelou.

“I could feel like I had Maya close and continuing her tradition.”

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