First Gay Latino Chosen as Inaugural Poet

Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco

Engineer Richard Blanco will have his poetic voice exposed to millions of Americans on the steps of the Capitol on Jan. 21. Blanco has been chosen to be Obama’s official inauguration poet. Blanco, like President Barack Obama, comes from a diverse background. He was born in Spain and raised in Miami—and he’s also gay.

Find out more about him after the jump…

His parents brought him to America with the hopes of a better life. Since Blanco was a math genius, he became an engineer. This career choice proved two things: he was able to succeed and counter his family’s perception that he might be homosexual—his grandmother always thought he was too feminine.  Although Blanco was doing well as an engineer, he longed to be creative, which led him to take night classes at Florida International University. There, he earned a master’s degree in fine arts and creative writing. Blanco went on to win the 1997 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize for his first collection, “City of a Hundred Fires.” Blanco’s poems can be viewed as comparable to Obama’s autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” as they both express similar concepts of identity. In Blanco’s most recent collection “Looking for the Gulf Motel” he discusses life as a gay man and dealing with growing up in a conservative Cuban culture. According to the New York Times “The challenge,” he [Blanco] said, “is how to be me in the poem, to have a voice that’s still intimate but yet can encompass a multitude of what America is.”

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