When Richard Blanco got the call that he'd been chosen to write a poem for President Obama's second inauguration, at first he thought it was a prank. He still has no idea how he ended up on the President's radar.
"I would dream actually that the President has actually read my work and was so moved by it," says Blanco, laughing, "that he said, 'I want this guy to read a poem at the inaugural.'"
Richard Blanco is home now, back in Miami after a six-year journey that launched the award-winning poet and FIU double-graduate into what was supposed to be the “real America.”
“The great prodigal return,” he calls it, the irony evident in his voice – not only about the places he’s been, but about the place he’s come back to. The journey has shaped much of Blanco’s recent poetry, and his evolving sense of identity as a writer, as the son of Cuban immigrants and as an American.
From the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to Old School Square in Delray Beach, poetry class is in session.
Today, 44-year-old Richard Blanco, the Miami-raised son of Cuban immigrants, becomes the fifth poet ever to take part in a President's inaugural ceremony. Blanco is scheduled to read an original poem after President Obama is sworn in for his second term.
When Richard Blanco takes the stage Monday at President Barack Obama's second inauguration, the poetry community of South Florida will be paying especially close attention.
Blanco was born to Cuban parents in Spain. The family immigrated to the United States and settled in Miami when Blanco was a toddler. He trained to be a civil engineer but a class at Florida International University later launched his poetry career.
Blanco's poetry is full of images from a childhood in South Florida and a Cuban-American household.
The announcement that a Miami-raised son of Cuban immigrants has been chosen as the inaugural poet for President Obama's swearing-in ceremony is causing a stir throughout South Florida. And nowhere more than in our region's literary community.
In 1993, a young civil engineer named Richard Blanco wanted to try his hand at writing poetry. So he took a class at Florida International University, led by English Professor Campbell McGrath.
"This is a work of fiction," cautions the introduction to poet C.M. Clark's latest book, "Charles Deering Forecasts the Weather & Other Poems."
Whatever would Charles Deering say? If there's one person who can at least guess, it's Clark. She was the very first Literary Artist-in-Residence for the Deering Estate, which stands alongside the Biltmore Hotel and Vizcaya as one of Miami-Dade's historical gems. The estate was built in 1916 by Deering, a wealthy industrialist, and once housed one of the most extensive art collections in our region.
Perhaps more than anyone else, writers understand the need for a safe place to pursue their craft. Unfortunately, in some countries a poem or an essay can lead to persecution, arrest, or worse. Find out how writers like Russell Banks, Salman Rushdie and