Richard Blanco

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Richard Blanco
Richard Blanco.JPG
Richard Blanco, 2013
Born Ricardo Blanco
(1968-02-15) February 15, 1968 (age 50)
Madrid, Spain
Occupation Poet, Public Speaker, Civil Engineer, Teacher, Memoirist
Citizenship American
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

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.[1]


Richard Blanco’s mother, seven months pregnant, and the rest of the family arrived as exiles from Cuba to Madrid where he was born on February 15, 1968. Forty-five days later, the family immigrated once more to New York City. Blanco was raised and educated in Miami.[2]

Blanco reading his poem One Today at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, 2013

Between 1999 and 2001, Blanco traveled extensively through Spain, Italy, France, Guatemala, Brazil, Cuba, and New England. He has taught at Wesleyan University, Georgetown University, American University, Central Connecticut State University, and Writer's Center.[3][4] Blanco is a member of the prestigious Macondo Writers Workshop, the workshop founded by Sandra Cisneros.[5]

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."[6] 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."[7] According to Time magazine, he "views the more conservative, hard-line exile cohort of his parents' generation ... with a skeptical eye."[8] John Dolan was critical of his style, calling his work "pure identity poetics, unsullied by one single stray thought or original turn of phrase."[9]

His work has appeared in The Nation, Ploughshares,[10] 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.[11] He was also the youngest.[12] 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."[13] The poem he presented, "One Today",[14] 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."[15] 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."[16] Blanco planned to publish all three poems he composed for the event.[13] 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.[17]

In May 2013, Blanco wrote and performed a poem for the Boston Strong Benefit Concert.[18] 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.[19] 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,[20] Freedom to Marry, the Tech Awards of Silicon Valley, and the Fragrance Awards at Lincoln Center.[21]

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."[22]

He and his partner live in Bethel, Maine.[6]


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.[23]

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.[24]

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,[25] and received the Paterson Poetry Prize, the 2012 Maine Literary Award for Poetry, and the Thom Gunn Award.[26][27]

Beacon Press will publish Blanco's fourth book of poetry, How to Love a Country, in March 2019.[28]




  • Michael Collier; Rita Dove, eds. (2000). The Best American Poetry 2000. University Press of New England. ISBN 978-0-74320-033-2.  poetry anthology
  • Michael Collier, ed. (March 1, 2000). The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets. Bread Loaf Writers' Conference/Middlebury. ISBN 978-0-87451-964-8.  poetry anthology
  • Gerald Costanzo; Jim Daniels, eds. (2000). American Poetry: The Next Generation. Carnegie Mellon. ISBN 978-0-88748-343-1.  poetry anthology
  • David Lehman, ed. (April 2003). Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present. Scribner Book Company. ISBN 978-0-7432-4350-6.  poetry anthology
  • Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century. Sarabande Books. 2006. ISBN 978-1-93251-129-1.  poetry anthology
  • Michael Montlack, ed. (2009). Divining Divas: 100 Gay Men on Their Muses. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-299-23120-0. , essay anthology
  • Ilan Stavans; Edna Acosta-Belén; Harold Augenbraum; María Herrera-Sobek; Rolando Hinojosa; Gustavo Pérez Firmat, eds. (2011). Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. W. W. & Norton Company. ISBN 978-0-39397-532-1. , poetry anthology
  • Michael Montlack, ed. (2012). Divining Divas: 100 Gay Men on Their Muses. Lethe Press. ISBN 978-1-59021-383-4. , poetry anthology
  • Jim Elledge; David Groff, eds. (2012). Who's Yer Daddy. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN 978-0-29928-940-9. , essay anthology

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bruce, Mary (January 21, 2013). "'One Today': Full Text of Richard Blanco Inaugural Poem". ABC News. Retrieved January 22, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Richard Blanco". Retrieved 2018-07-31. 
  3. ^ Sienna M Potts: "Poetry of Place, Home, and Identity". Richard Blanco. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  4. ^ "PEN American Center - Richard Blanco". October 16, 2006. Archived from the original on October 2, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2012. 
  5. ^ "Macondo Writers Workshop at crossroads", Austin American Statesman, by Josefina Casati, August 2, 2015
  6. ^ a b Stolberg, Sheryl Gay (January 8, 2012). "Poet's Kinship With the President". New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  7. ^ Tobar, Hector (January 9, 2013). "Richard Blanco named Obama's 2013 inaugural poet". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  8. ^ Padgett, Tim (January 18, 2013). "Richard Blanco, Obama's Inaugural Poet: Not Your Father's Cuban Exile". Time. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  9. ^ Dolan, John. Richard Blanco: Why is it that poetry only rears its zombie head when we elect a democrat? NSFWcorp. Retrieved January 22, 2013.
  10. ^ "Author Detail: Richard Blanco". Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Richard Blanco Will Be First Latino Inaugural Poet". NPR. January 9, 2013. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  12. ^ Sink, Justin (January 9, 2013). "Inaugural committee announces lunch menu, poet". The Hill. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b Pringle, Caroline (February 6, 2013). "Inaugural poet talks 'One Today'". Yale Daily News. Retrieved February 9, 2013. 
  14. ^ "Inauguration 2013: Richard Blanco's inaugural poem 'One Today'". Los Angeles Times. January 21, 2013. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 
  15. ^ Tucker, Ken (January 21, 2013). "Poetry at the Presidential inauguration: The Richard Blanco poem 'One Today,' its form and meaning". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  16. ^ Freedlander, David (January 21, 2013). "Richard Blanco, Obama's Historic Inauguration Poet". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 23, 2013. 
  17. ^ "Beacon Broadside". Beacon Press. Retrieved 23 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "Rolling Stone". Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  19. ^ "Amazon". Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  20. ^
  21. ^ "The Poetry Foundation". Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  22. ^ "Interview with Richard Blanco". La Bloga. Retrieved January 10, 2013. 
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^ "Blue Flower Arts: Richard Blanco". Retrieved 2018-07-31.  External link in |website= (help)
  29. ^ "Richard Blanco". Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Something To Declare: Celebrating Writers Of Color, October 16, 2006". PEN America. Retrieved January 21, 2013. 

External links[edit]