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Gay, Latino, Immigrant: Richard Blanco, Inaugural Poet

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WASHINGTON--President Barack Obama's inauguration committee in naming Richard Blanco the "Inaugural Poet," is highlighting that he is Latino, gay and younger than the other poets who have served in that role.

Blanco will write a poem for the Jan. 21 public inauguration ceremony at the West Steps of the Capitol. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will sworn-in on Jan. 20 at the White House.


From the Presidential Inaugural Committee "Blanco will be the youngest-ever Inaugural poet and the first Hispanic or LGBT person to recite a poem at the swearing-in ceremony.

...Born in Spain to Cuban exiles, Blanco's parents emigrated to New York City days after his birth and eventually settled in Miami. Blanco began his career as a consultant engineer. Writing about abstract concepts and preparing arguments on behalf of his clients helped Blanco think about the "engineering" of language, and he left his job in 1999 for the creative writing faculty at Central Connecticut State University until 2001. 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.

...As a writer, Blanco explores the collective American experience of cultural negotiation through the lens of family and love, particularly his mother's life shaped by exile, his relationship with his father, and the passing of a generation of relatives. His work also explores the intersection of his cultural identities as a Cuban-American gay man.

...The first inaugural poet was Robert Frost at President Kennedy's 1961 inauguration. In 1993, at the inauguration of President Clinton, Maya Angelou became the second inaugural poet and the first to read an original poem at an inauguration. She was followed by Miller Williams in 1997 and Elizabeth Alexander in 2009.

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