BOSTON PUBLIC RADIO
4:59 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Poet Richard Blanco

Does the 21st Century American dream  go something like this? Openly gay, Cuban poet living in Bethel, Maine gets plucked from relative obscurity and dropped smack dab in the middle of the global stage.  

That's what happened recently to Richard Blanco.  Earlier this month the Presidential Inaugural Committee tapped him to write and read a poem for President Obama's second inauguration.  Blanco, who describes himself as “made in Cuba, assembled in Spain, and imported to the United States,” in many ways is the demographic representation of today's America.

Though he's regarded by those who are familiar with his work as a passionate, engaging poet who very much captures the ethos of America in his work, was it his poetry that landed him in the spotlight or was it politics?

Is Blanco an efficient embodiment of the demographic spheres that helped to get President Obama elected to another term?  Or was it  Blanco's words, world view,  and craft that have earned him this distinction?  And when it comes to poetry, should the Presidential Inaugural Committee even be in the position of playing the literary critic?

These are some of the issues we talked through today. We also took some time out, however, to hear some of Blanco's work.

GUESTS:

Ilan Stavans, Professor  in Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst

Maria Hinojosa, Anchor and Executive Producer, Latino USA

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