Former Miamian Makes History As Obama’s Inaugural Poet
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Former Miami resident Richard Blanco has had his voice heard at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration as he became the first Hispanic inaugural poet. He is also the first openly gay one to read a verse at the occasion and at the age of 44, he is also the youngest.
Shortly after President Obama took his oath of office, Blanco took to the podium to read his original poem “One Today” before millions worldwide.
The poem began:
“One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,
peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces
of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth
across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.
One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story
told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.”
Click here to read the full text of the poem “One Today.”
The artist has spent his career writing primarily about discovering who you are.
Watch Web Video Extra of Blanco’s reading below.
In a 2004 reading at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival he explained, “Poetry for me has always been, not so much finding an answer, but just asking a good question. For me that question has been and continues to be what is home. I think it’s a universal question.”
Before he was a poet, Blanco was actually an engineer. Some of his projects included City Hall in South Miami. Eventually he realized he wanted another creative outlet for himself and so he went to Florida International University to study poetry.
Blanco now lives in Maine but his mother still lives in Miami and she too attended Monday’s inaugural ceremony in Washington, D.C. to proudly watch her son deliver his poetry to the world.
The first inaugural poet was Robert Frost, who in 1961 wrote a poem for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy.
In 1993, Bill Clinton chose the African-American writer Maya Angelou. William Miller was chosen for Clinton’s second inauguration, and Elizabeth Alexander wrote the poem for Obama’s first ceremony.
In a statement, Obama said Blanco’s work represents “the great strength and diversity of the American people.”