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Morning Brief: Getting To Know LA Poet Amanda Gorman

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Good morning, L.A.

There were plenty of luminaries at yesterday’s inauguration events, from the President-elect and Vice President-elect themselves to Lady Gaga, J. Lo and Garth Brooks.

But among them all, the 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman stood out. With her stunning words and swan-like gestures, she rallied Americans around a moment of great division to look towards a future based on strength, survival and hope:

So while once we asked, “How could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?"

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Now, we assert, “How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?”

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be

A country that is bruised, but whole

Benevolent, but bold, fierce and free.

While the world may have just been introduced to Gorman yesterday, she’s been known as a rising star in L.A. for years.

A native of West L.A., Gorman was raised by a single mother and attended the New Roads School in Santa Monica. Gorman has described her childhood as “this incredibly odd intersection in Los Angeles, where it felt like the black ’hood met black elegance met white gentrification met Latin culture met wetlands.”

At 14, Gorman joined WriteGirl, a local nonprofit that provides writing mentorship to girls and young women. Michelle Chahine Sinno, who mentored Gorman at WriteGirl for two years, told my colleague Caroline Champlin that the young poet’s talent was always apparent.

"The way she sees the world is amazing,” she said, “from the mundane to today, talking about democracy."

Gorman went on to become the first Los Angeles Youth Poet Laureate, and later the first National Youth Poet Laureate. And while many heard her words for the first time today, Gorman has always believed in the power of poetry, and young people, to reach across divides.

“We know at the very least that poetry is powerful,” she wrote in a 2014 essay for The Huffington Post. “Youth is powerful. Combined, we produce enough power to change ourselves and change the world.”

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Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

What Else You Need To Know Today

Before You Go … What Even Is A Coat?

Kamala Harris (left), Jill Biden (center) and Michelle Obama (right) attend the inauguration of President Joe Biden on January 20, 2021. (Left: David Tulis. Center: Patrick Semansky. Right: Jim Lo Scalzo. All for Getty Images)

In its most basic terms, it is "an outer garment worn on the upper body" that varies "in length and style according to fashion and use." (Thanks, Merriam-Webster.) But between the naturally warm weather here in Los Angeles and the increasingly warm winters wrought by climate change, many of us who live here may have forgotten just how to coat.

And yet, there they were, in a dazzling assortment of colors and styles at yesterday’s inauguration of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

So what is this strange garment, and who won the low-key battle of the outerwear at yesterday’s socially distanced festivities?

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