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9-year-old Kayden Hern, of Harlem, performs as poet laureate of New York

9-year-old Kayden Hern, of Harlem, is New York's poet laureate
9-year-old Kayden Hern, of Harlem, is New York's poet laureate 02:14

NEW YORK - At Gov. Kathy Hochul's historic inauguration Sunday, a lyrically gifted 9-year-old from Harlem stole the show. His name is Kayden Hern. 

"In my mind, I used to be a child of poverty, not knowing that hopes and dreams can become reality," Hern told the crowd rhythmically, peering over the top of the podium.

Hern easily seems wise beyond his years, impressing everyone he meets.

"I was outside the Apollo Theater, it was Amateur Night," Hochul recalled at the beginning of her speech Sunday. "And there's a long line around the block, and I saw this young man standing there. I said, 'You're going in to watch somebody?' He goes, 'No, I'm a poet. I'm going to go recite.'"

"I was excited," Hern remembered feeling. "Yeah, because at the Apollo, I just wanted to take a picture with her. And then she asked me, what do I do? And I said, I draw. I also write poems."

Hern did not throw away his shot, performing his way straight to the top.

"I figured he'd whip out a piece of paper and read it to me," Hochul continued. "He had memorized it … I stood there on the spot and I said, 'If I win this election, you are my Poet Laureate and I want you here.'"

The piece Hern wrote was titled, "In My Mind."

"In my mind, I heard my ancestor cry," Hern recited. "They helped clear the path so others do not have to die."

"I got the inspiration from my grandmother," Hern said, "because she told me to write down my thoughts about what's happening around the world."

His grandmother Jackie Hern helps him dream big and digest serious discussions.

"He would ask questions about racism, about school, about ... in the old-fashioned days, what was going on?" Hern's grandmother said. "And I told him what we going on, and we just started writing things together."

Hern hopes to use his poetry to keep spreading positivity. As Poet Laureate of New York, he is just getting started.

"If you get that opportunity, it's special," Hern said. "She could have chose anybody else, but she decided to choose me. Also, other people could recognize me and it could be the president. You never know."

Have a story idea or tip in Harlem? Email Jessi by CLICKING HERE.

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