|Ethnicity Cuban American|
Partner Mark Neveu
Movies Until We Could
|Name Richard Blanco|
Awards PEN Open Book Award
|Born Richard Blanco
February 15, 1968 (age 47)
Madrid, Spain (1968-02-15) |
Occupation Poet, Public Speaker, Civil Engineer, Teacher, Memoirist
Alma mater Florida International University
Notable works "One Today" The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet's Journey Until We Could Film Looking for the Gulf Motel Directions to the Beach of the Dead City of a Hundred Fires Nowhere but Here Boston Strong: The Poem
Education Florida International University
Books One Today, The Prince of Los Cocuyos, Looking for The Gulf Motel, For All of Us - One Today: A, City of a Hundred Fires
Similar People Elizabeth Gilbert, Yen Tan, David Lowery, Richard Nixon
Inauguration 2013 richard blanco s poetry pays homage to american experience
Richard Blanco (born February 15, 1968) is an American poet, public speaker, author and civil engineer. He is the fifth poet to read at a United States presidential inauguration, having read for Barack Obama's second inauguration. He is the first immigrant, the first Latino, the first openly gay person and the youngest person to be the U.S. inaugural poet.
- Inauguration 2013 richard blanco s poetry pays homage to american experience
- Inauguration poet richard blanco hopes to give poem of unity
Inauguration poet richard blanco hopes to give poem of unity
Blanco, born in Madrid on February 15, 1968, immigrated as an infant with his Cuban exile family to Miami, and was raised and educated there. He earned a B.S. from Florida International University in Civil Engineering in 1991 and his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing in 1997, where he studied with Campbell McGrath.
Since 1999, he has traveled and lived in Guatemala and Brazil. He taught at Georgetown University, American University, Central Connecticut State University, and Writer's Center. Blanco is a member of the prestigious Macondo Writers Workshop, the workshop founded by Sandra Cisneros.
He explored his Cuban heritage in his early works and his role as a gay man in Cuban-American culture in Looking for the Gulf Motel (2012). He explained: "It's trying to understand how I fit between negotiating the world, between being mainstream gay and being Cuban gay." According to Time magazine, he "views the more conservative, hard-line exile cohort of his parents' generation ... with a skeptical eye." John Dolan was critical of his style, calling his work "pure identity poetics, unsullied by one single stray thought or original turn of phrase."
His work has appeared in The Nation, Ploughshares, Indiana Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, TriQuarterly Review, New England Review, and Americas Review. Blanco is part of the online Letras Latinas Oral History Project archives.
On January 8, 2013, he was named the inaugural poet for Barack Obama's second inauguration, the fifth person to play that role. He was the first immigrant, first Latino, and first gay person to be the inaugural poet. He was also the youngest. He was asked to compose three poems from which inauguration officials selected the one he would read. After reading "One Today," he said to his mother: "Well, Mom, I think we're finally American." The poem he presented, "One Today", was called "a humble, modest poem, one presented to a national audience as a gift of comradeship, and in the context of political, pop, and media culture, a quiet assertion that poetry deserves its place in our thoughts on this one day, and every day." Others called it "a rare break from the staid custom of ceremony that the rest of the afternoon brought" and assessed it as "Overall, the poem is successful, art meant to orient, to reconfirm collective identity in a time of recent tragedy. It's an optimistic, careful piece meant to encourage, a balm." Blanco planned to publish all three poems he composed for the event. He did so with the publication of For All of Us, One Today on November 19, 2013. The memoir chronicles his experiences creating the poems commissioned for the inaugural. It includes "One Today" along with the two other poems, "Mother Country" and "What We Know of Country," in English and Spanish.
In May 2013, Blanco wrote and performed a poem for the Boston Strong Benefit Concert. A chapbook of the poem was also published. The net proceeds of all sales of the chapbook benefit the One Fund, which helps victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. In addition, he has written and performed occasional poems for organizations and events such as the re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Cuba, Freedom to Marry, the Tech Awards of Silicon Valley, and the Fragrance Awards at Lincoln Center.
He and his partner split their time between Bethel, Maine and Boston, MA. In the poem "Queer Theory, According to My Grandmother," he described how his grandmother warned him as a young boy: "For God's sake, never pee sitting down ... /I've seen you" and "Don't stare at The Six-Million-Dollar Man./I've seen you." and "Never dance alone in your room."
When asked in a May 7, 2012 interview with La Bloga whether he considered himself a Cuban writer or simply a writer, Blanco responded: "I am a writer who happens to be Cuban, but I reserve the right to write about anything I want, not just my cultural identity. Aesthetically and politically, I don't exclusively align myself with any one particular group—Latino, Cuban, gay, or 'white'—but I embrace them all. Good writing is good writing. I like what I like."
Blanco’s first book of poetry, City of a Hundred Fires, was published in 1998 to critical acclaim, winning the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. The collection explored his cultural yearnings and contradictions as a Cuban-American coming of age in Miami and captured the details of his transformational first trip to Cuba, his figurative homeland.
Directions to the Beach of the Dead, published in 2005, explored the familiar, unsettling journey for home and connections, and won the PEN/Beyond Margins Award.
In 2012, Blanco's third book of poetry, Looking for The Gulf Motel, was published; it related Blanco’s complex navigation through his cultural, sexual, and artistic identities, and received the Paterson Poetry Prize, the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Poetry, and the Thom Gunn Award.