According to Wikipedia, “Richard Blanco (born February 15, 1968) is an American poet, speaker, author and civil engineer. He is the fifth poet to read at a United States presidential inauguration, having read the poem “One Today” for Barack Obama’s second inauguration in 2013. Richard is the first immigrant, the first Latino, the first openly gay person and at the time the youngest person to be the U.S. Inaugural Poet. “
“That’s Richard Blanco, the poet we met a few weeks ago at the Book Fair,” Stewart commented as we watched the Inaugural ceremony on television. At the time, at the Book Fair, we had a lengthy conversation with Richard. He didn’t mention what was to happen so it was a surprise to see him in front of a live audience numbering in the hundreds-of-thousands, and millions of TV viewers.
Four years later – in 2017 – we met Richard again. “How were you able to keep a secret of this magnitude?” Stewart asked. “When I spoke with you, I really didn’t know. I found out about a week later,” Richard said with a laugh.
Since then, Richard Blanco has written several books, won many prizes, and became a professor. His passion is to demystify poetry. He teaches all ages, from grade school to nursing homes, as well as at prestigious universities. He leads writers workshops at correctional institutions. He’s involved with several non-profit organizations including the Writer’s Center. And he serves as the first Education Ambassador for the Academy of American Poets.
Most important are his understanding of his Cuban heritage, his love for his family, his respect for and appreciation of America, and his extraordinary ability to express his feelings in poetry with words that everyone can understand and relate to. These are some of the reasons why Richard Blanco has become an icon.
This Conversation happened in 2017. The message Richard conveyed then, is even more relevant today.
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