Richard Blanco, a former member of the creative writing faculty at Central Connecticut State University, will serve as the Inaugural poet at President Barack Obama’s swearing-in ceremony on Monday, January 21, according to the the Presidential Inauguration Committee.
“I’m honored that Richard Blanco will join me and Vice President Biden at our second Inaugural,” President Obama said in a statement. “His contributions to the fields of poetry and the arts have already paved a path forward for future generations of writers. Richard’s writing will be wonderfully fitting for an Inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity.”
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. “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.”