Richard Blanco, gay, Cuban-American, poet—and inaugural choice!

So obviously it was such wonderful news yesterday about Richard Blanco being named the inaugural poet! I’ve been watching the news come out and have come across four pieces I think worth sharing about this, below. The news has been picked up by everyone of course, but I focused on pieces that were in some way more than just a reporting of the news.

LA TIMES: snippet: “Growing up gay and Cuban American was an even bigger challenge. In the poem “Queer Theory, According to My Grandmother,” Blanco writes of the many admonitions he received growing up.

“For God’s sake, never pee sitting down…./I’ve seen you,” his grandmother says. “Don’t stare at The Six-Million-Dollar Man./I’ve seen you.” And finally: “Never dance alone in your room.”

Blanco never did stop dancing.

“At a poetry reading a woman once asked me to share something about myself that no one would know directly from reading my bio or my work,” he says on his website. “Somewhat embarrassed, I told the audience about my poetry dance — a little Michael Jackson-inspired shtick I do around the house in my pajamas when I am high from a good-poem day.”

2) Peter Covino at Lambda Literary Foundation:
“Clearly, Richard understands and is skilled at harnessing the real radical power of poetry (radix in Latin) as in the root of poetic language, and its importance for larger American culture. Richard Blanco’s work is extraordinary in its ability to tell a clear and compelling story filled with vivid imagery culled from various cultures, and in the subtle and inimitable way he suggests that no language has primacy over another.

He seems to be telling us we need to be inclusive and compassionate, not dismissive because someone’s accent is different from our own.  What an important message for children and people of all backgrounds to hear during the inauguration.”

3)  Don Share in the WashPo said that Blanco’s poems “sound like so many people in this country. He works in Spanish and English, a mixture that is our native language, and he makes it sounds like real poetry. This is poetry that speaks for and from a great number of Americans. He gives a voice to the kinds of experience that people undergo every single day. Even people who don’t want to read it themselves can understand the value of a moment in which we say that this country is made of poetry.”

4) And Achy Obejas’s nice recollection:

CONGRATS, RICHARD!

One response to “Richard Blanco, gay, Cuban-American, poet—and inaugural choice!

  1. Concerning Obama’s two inaugural poets, Elizabeth Alexander and Richard Blanco, the thing that interests me is that their two poems–her “Praise Song for The Day”, his “One Today”–set side by side, seem to be written from a single templet. Blanco’s is an improvement on Alexander’s, which was criticized at the time for its use of cliche (“I know there’s something better down the road”) and what Adam Kirsch called “bureaucratic language.” Blanco’s reads like a revision of hers, making it more concrete, more personal, but lines from the two poems are seamlessly interchangeable: “Hands gleaning coal or planting windmills…hands/digging trenches, routing pipes and cables…” (RB) “Someone is stitching up a hem, darning/a hole in a uniform, patching a tire (EA)…”All about us is noise. All about us is/noise and bramble, thorn and din, each/one of our ancestors on our tongues” (EA) “Hear it/through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs…/hear: the doors we open…/saying: hello, shalom, buon giorno, howdy, nameste, or buenos dias…(RB). Does Obama hand out a blueprint along with the assignment?

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