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Oprah Gave Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman This Symbolic Gift

It has a link back to a previous inaugural poet.

At Wednesday's inauguration, amid the swearing in of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris and performances by Lady GagaJennifer Lopez, and Garth Brooks, a young poet named Amanda Gorman took to the podium to read one of her pieces. Gorman, the first National Youth Poet Laureate and the youngest inaugural poet, connected with viewers across the country with her poem "The Hill We Climb" and earned tons of praise, but Gorman already had one huge celebrity fan before her national appearance: Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey even gave Gorman some special jewelry to wear at the inauguration, which had a connection to former inaugural poet Maya Angelou.

Read on to find out more about the gift that Winfrey gave Gorman and how the TV host reacted to the 22-year-old's reading. And for more on Wednesday's events, check out The Real Reason So Many People Wore This at the Inauguration.

Winfrey gave Gorman a ring and a pair of earrings.

American poet Maya Angelou reciting her poem 'On the Pulse of Morning' at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton in Washington DC, 20th January 1993
Consolidated News Pictures/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

When Angelou was the poet for Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration, she wore a Chanel coat and a pair of gloves that were gifted to her by Winfrey. So, when Winfrey heard that Gorman would be the poet for Biden's inauguration, she decided to reach out to her about a gift, too.

"Oprah actually got in contact with me, and we've been in touch for a while now. Every single time I get a text from her I fall on the floor," Gorman said in an interview with Vogue. "She was like, 'I'm so excited that you're doing the poem,' and she's been really supportive because she knew how nervous I was about going. She said, 'I bought the coat and gloves that Maya Angelou wore when she recited her inaugural poem. I'd love to continue the tradition with you and bring something to your outfit.'"

So, Winfrey gave Gorman a pair of earrings and a ring that is shaped like a caged bird in honor of Angelou's book I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

And for a recent gift Winfrey received herself, check out Oprah Winfrey Reveals What Meghan Markle Sent Her For Christmas.

The rest of Gorman's outfit had a special meaning, too.

Poet Amanda Gorman speaks during the inauguration ceremony on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Along with the jewelry, Gorman wore a look by Prada, including a yellow coat, white shirt, black skirt, and striking red headband. Gorman told Vogue that she admires Prada designer Miuccia Prada for her feminism and intellect.

In regards to her coat, Gorman explained, "I'm also wearing a yellow coat, which is my own nod to Dr. Jill Biden, who was the one who recommended me in the first place, and I'm so honored by that." The First Lady recommended Gorman as the inaugural poet after watching her 2017 reading at the Library of Congress.

According to Gorman, Biden said, "I saw this video of you and you were wearing yellow and I loved it."

Winfrey praised Gorman's inauguration reading.

Oprah Winfrey
Joe Seer/Shutterstock

On Wednesday afternoon, Winfrey posted about Gorman's reading on Instagram and Twitter. "I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!" she wrote. "Brava Brava, @amandascgorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I."

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Then, Gorman posted about Winfrey.

Amanda Gorman/Instagram

Gorman responded to Winfrey's message on Twitter. "Thank you! I would be nowhere without the women whose footsteps I dance in," she wrote. "While reciting my poem, I wore a ring with a caged bird—a gift from @Oprah for the occasion, to symbolize Maya Angelou, a previous inaugural poet. Here's to the women who have climbed my hills before."

In addition to the message to Winfrey, Gorman posted on her Instagram Story about the behind-the-scenes of being an inaugural poet, her excitement at seeing Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda's tweet to her, and all the new fans she's gained. And for more from the historic day, check out The Most Striking Photos From Inauguration Day.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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