Richard Blanco is easily the most famous poet on this list. At 44 years old, he served as the nation’s fifth and youngest inaugural poet at President Barack Obama’s second inauguration. Plucked from obscurity, Blanco was the first immigrant, Latino and openly gay presidential poet and his selection served a symbol that the President had made a fundamental shift in ideology and was no longer afraid to voice his support of openly gay Americans and immigration. Blanco was born in Cuba but raised in Miami and his inaugural poem, “One Today,” focused on unity despite differences. It capped off an illustrious career that has included five books, an honorary doctorate from the Humane Letters and a history-making moment for the city of Miami.
Ricardo Pau-Llosa is no stranger to accolades. His first book, “Sorting Metaphors,” won the Anhinga Prize in a national competition and his third book, “Cuba,” was published by the Carnegie Mellon U Press and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1993. He is a literary linguist that weaves words into works of art that titillate the senses and dance on your tongue while never forgetting his Cuban roots. By the last verse, it feels as if you’ve returned from a short journey into a world of a literary genius that you wish you could never leave. He currently serves as an English professor at Miami Dade College.
Campbell McGrath is a South Florida transplant by way of Chicago. He’s a master of the long-form poem and his work is a narrative of city stories from the streets of Chicago to the sunny shores of Miami. He has penned eight books including “Florida Poems” and his most recent book “In the Kingdom of Sea Monkeys.” He currently teaches creative writing at Florida International University and is the founder of the Miami Poetry Collective.
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Like McGrath, Michael Hettich is a transplant to South Florida. He grew up in Brooklyn, NY and settled in Miami in his latter years. He is the author of an astounding 12 books, two of which have received literary recognition. “The Measured Breathing” won the 2011 Swan Scythe Press Award and “Swimmer Dreams” won the Tales Prize in 2005. His work offers an insightful perspective of life that illuminates the beauty of the most ordinary of objects.
Curtis Perdue is an up-and-comer on the South Florida literary scene. He has written “You Will Island” and is the editor of Interrupture, a literary journal that publishes three times a year and highlights the best in poetry. Unlike the others on this list, Perdue’s poetry isn’t dense with alliteration or overly descriptive but its simplicity is its brilliance. The phrase “less is more” applies strongly here. You can view Perdue’s online publication or catch him at community literary events like the month-long poetry celebration, O, Miami.
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Niema Hulin was born in Newark, NJ but raised in Lexington, South Carolina for the bulk of her formative years. In 2002, she moved to Miami after graduating from the University of Florida. Since then, Niema has worked in film, television and commercials as a Production Assistant and Production Coordinator. Some of her films have included Bad Boys II and I Am Number IV. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.