Inaugural poet Richard Blanco to visit Union

Publication Date

Richard Blanco, who last month became the fifth presidential inaugural poet, will read from his works 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 5 in the Nott Memorial.

The event is free and open to the public.

Before the reading in the Nott, Blanco will have dinner and a discussion with students in Beuth House.

Blanco's bio says he was "made in Cuba, assembled in Spain and imported to the United States."

Although his poems have appeared in top literary journals and anthologies, including The Nation, the New Republic, Michigan Quarterly Review and The Best American Poetry, Blanco was not widely known until he was chosen by President Barack Obama as the inaugural poet.

Obama selected Blanco because his “deeply personal poems are rooted in the idea of what it means to be an American.” Blanco, 44, became the first immigrant, the first Latino and the first openly gay person to be named the inaugural poet. Previous inaugural poets have included Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.

At the inauguration, Blanco read his poem, One Today.

His first book of poetry, City of a Hundred Fires, explores the yearnings and negotiation of cultural identity as a Cuban-American. It received the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. His next collection, Directions to The Beach of the Dead, won the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center for its continued exploration of the universal themes of cultural identity and homecoming. His latest collection, Looking for The Gulf Motel, was published last year by the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Blanco holds a bachelors of science degree in civil engineering and a master of fine arts in creative writing.

He grew up in Miami and lives with his partner in Bethel, Maine.

Blanco's visit is sponsored by the Minerva Program.

To read a recent profile in the New York Times, click here.