Monday, January 21, 2013

Immigrant of the Day: Richard Blanco, Inauguration Poet

Born on February 15, 1968 in Madrid, Spain, Richard Blanco grew up in Miami, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Florida International University. He is the son of Cuban exiles and is gay.

Blanco's collections of poetry include Looking for The Gulf Motel (2012); Directions to The Beach of the Dead (2005), winner of the 2006 PEN/American Center Beyond Margins Award; and City of a Hundred Fires (1998), winner of the 1997 Agnes Lynch Starrett National Poetry Prize.

Sandra Cisneros describes Blanco's poems as "sad, tender, and filled with longing. Like an old photograph, a saint's statue worn away by the devout, a bolero on the radio on a night full of rain. Me emocionan. There is no other way to say it. They emotion me."

As it was put in the New York Times, "his poems are laden with longing for the sights and smells of the land his parents left behind." 

Blanco is the recipient of two Florida Artist Fellowships, a Residency Fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the John Ciardi Fellowship from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Blanco is a professional civil engineer and has also taught writing at various schools, including Central Connecticut State University, Georgetown University, and American University.

In 2013, Richard Blanco was selected to read at Barack Obama's second Presidential Inauguration.  As the 2013 inaugural poet, Blanco joins the ranks of famouus predecessors such as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.


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