Next week, St. Andrews University’s Writers’ Forum will host one of the more familiar contemporary American poets.
Richard Blanco composed and read 2013’s inaugural poem, “One Today,” at the second inauguration of President Barack Obama in January. His appointment as inaugural poet marked a milestone in several ways, as he is the youngest inaugural poets to date, as well as the first Hispanic, first openly gay, and first immigrant, to take on the role.
Of Cuban heritage, Blanco moved from with his family from Spain to Manhattan to Miami, Fla. as an infant. He grew up in Miami before attending Florida International University, where he studied civil engineering before obtaining an M.F.A.
Blanco’s first book of poetry, City of a Hundred Fires, received the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. His second book, Directions to the Beach of the Dead, won the Beyond the Margins Award from the PEN American Center. A third collection, Looking for The Gulf Motel, was published in 2012.
According to inaugural committee spokeswoman Addie Whisenant, Blanco was personally selected by President Barack Obama because his “deeply personal poems are rooted in the idea of what it means to be an American.”
His poems have appeared in top literary journals and he has been featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, Blanco is the recipient of two Florida Artist Fellowships, a Residency Fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and is a John Ciardi Fellow of the Bread Loaf Writers Conference.
“Blanco’s poems sound like so many people in this country,” said Don Share, senior editor of Poetry Magazine. “He works in Spanish and English, a mixture that is our native language, and he makes it sound 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.”
Blanco will read selections of his recent poetry and short fiction at the St. Andrews writers’ forum on Thursday at 8 p.m. The forum, which is free and open to the public, will be held in the Belk Main Lounge. He has read at the forum several times previously to positive reception.
For more information about the Writers’ Forum, creative writing or the St. Andrews Press, call 910-277-5310, email email@example.com or visit the website at www.sapc.edu.