For All of Us, One Today, One Today, Boston Strong, Looking for the Gulf Motel, Directions to the Beach of the Dead, City of a Hundred Fires
Richard Blanco (born February 15, 1968) is an Americanpoet, public speaker, author and civil engineer. The fifth poet to read at an inauguration, he was the inaugural poet 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.
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 in Fine Arts in Creative Writing in 1997, where he studied with Campbell McGrath. He visited Cuba once as a teenager.
Blanco reading his poem One Today at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama, 2013
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 his poem, 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 in English and Spanish “One Today” along with the two other poems “Mother Country” and “What We Know of Country.”
He lives in Bethel, Maine with his partner. 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."
Michael Collier and Rita Dove, ed. (2000). The Best American Poetry 2000. University Press of New England. ISBN978-0-74320-033-2. poetry anthology
Michael Collier, ed. (March 1, 2000). The Bread Loaf Anthology of New American Poets. Bread Loaf Writers' Conference/Middlebury. ISBN978-0-87451-964-8. poetry anthology
Gerald Costanzo and Jim Daniels, ed. (2000). American Poetry: The Next Generation. Carnegie Mellon. ISBN978-0-88748-343-1. poetry anthology
David Lehman, ed. (April 2003). Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present. Scribner Book Company. ISBN978-0-7432-4350-6. poetry anthology
Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century. Sarabande Books. 2006. ISBN978-1-93251-129-1. poetry anthology
Michael Montlack, ed. (2009). Divining Divas: 100 Gay Men on Their Muses. University of Wisconsin Press. ISBN978-0-299-23120-0., essay anthology
Ilan Stavans, Edna Acosta-Belén, Harold Augenbraum, María Herrera-Sobek, Rolando Hinojosa, Gustavo Pérez Firmat, ed. (2011). Norton Anthology of Latino Literature. W. W. & Norton Company. ISBN978-0-39397-532-1., poetry anthology