Wednesday, July 24, 2024

First Gay Latino Poet Selected as Inaugural Poet by President Obama

Richard Blanco
President Obama has selected Richard Blanco to serve as the Inaugural Poet for his swearing-in ceremony, making him the youngest poet, as well as the first Latino and gay poet to have the honor.

Blanco, 44 years old and Cuban-American, was chosen to write an original poem for the January 21st Inauguration, which will be broadcast to the nation and the world. According to Addie Whisenant, the inaugural committee’s spokeswoman, President Obama chose Blanco because his “deeply personal poems are rooted in the idea of what it means to be an American.”

“Since the beginning of the campaign, I totally related to his life story and the way he speaks of his family, and of course his multicultural background,” says Blanco. “There has always been a spiritual connection in that sense. I feel in some ways that when I’m writing about my family, I’m writing about him.”

Blanco is the son of Cuban parents, born in Spain, and raised and educated in Miami. His parents immigrated to the United States because they wanted a better life for their son. During his mid-20s, he began asking himself questions on identity and cultural negations, which prompted his desire to write.

Blanco first chose engineering to study while in school, but his passion for the written word made him pursue a graduate degree in writing. His graduate thesis led to his first poetry collection, “City of a Hundred Fires,” which won him a poetry prize in 1997.

“Here I am, first-generation Cuban American, and this great honor that has just come to me, and [I’m] just feeling that sense of just incredible gratitude and love,” said Blanco on NPR.

NBC Latino