Cuban American poet in the spotlight
Richard Blanco, the son of Cuban exiles, was only the fifth poet to be invited to read at a presidential inauguration (there have been 57 such events), and the first Latino. Blanco is also the youngest of this select group and is an openly gay man.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Blanco said that composing his inaugural poem, entitled One Today, was difficult because writing about America “obsesses” him, but his perspective has always been deeply personal. “The challenge of it,” he said, “was how to maintain sort of that sense of intimacy and … encompass a whole lot more than just my family and my experience.”
Self-exploration with respect to gender identity, ethnicity and familial relationships has been Blanco’s stock-in-trade as a poet, as is evident in his third and most recent volume, Looking for the Gulf Motel (2012, University of Pittsburgh Press).
Although Blanco’s poetry has received many accolades in literary circles, he has never been called a “mainstream” poet. Perhaps, that will change after his high-profile, January 21st performance on the national stage.