Richard Blanco, a former member of the creative writing faculty at Central Connecticut State University, recited the Inaugural poem at the Inauguration of President Barack Obama on Monday.
Blanco, 44, evoked memories of his childhood and spoke of the everyday comings and goings of life in America. He also paid homage to the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
"All of us as vital as the one light we move through, the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day: equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined, the "I have a dream" we keep dreaming, or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won't explain the empty desks of twenty children marked absent today, and forever."
Blanco was born in Spain to Cuban exiles and his parents emigrated to New York City days after his birth and eventually settled in Miami.
Blanco was a consultant engineer, writing about abstract concepts and preparing arguments on behalf of his clients, until 1999, when he joined the creative writing faculty at Central Connecticut State University until 2001. There, he taught a course in which students studied Latino and Latina literature.
Thereafter, he served as instructor at various universities throughout the country, including American and Georgetown universities, all the while maintaining his career in consulting engineer.
Blanco won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and the PEN American Center Beyond Margins Award.
In addition to family and love and the passing of a generation of relatives, Blanco’s work also explores how his cultural identities as a Cuban-American gay man intersect, according to a news release.
"I’m beside myself, bestowed with this great honor, brimming over with excitement, awe, and gratitude,” Blanco said after being chosen. “In many ways, this is the very ‘stuff’ of the American Dream, which underlies so much of my work and my life’s story—America’s story, really. I am thrilled by the thought of coming together during this great occasion to celebrate our country and its people through the power of poetry.”