Earlier this week, Richard Blanco was announced as the 2013 Inaugural Poet. Blanco is only the 5th poet handpicked to compose an original poem for the presidential inauguration (he is preceded by Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, and Elizabeth Alexander). His selection is unprecedented on many levels—Richard Blanco is the youngest (he turns 45 on February 15th), the first Latino, and the first openly gay Inaugural Poet.
For me, the selection of Richard Blanco is even more exciting because he is a double-life poet, holding bachelors of science degree in Civil Engineering and a Master in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Florida International University. He has also taught at various universities while maintaining his career as a consultant engineer in Miami. In the New York Times article about the announcement, Blanco is described as having a “facility with numbers and structural design that shines through in his writing.”
Here’s an excerpt from the poem, “Burning in the Rain,” which appeared in The New Republic:
Instead of burning, my pages turned
into water lilies floating over puddles,
then tiny white cliffs as the sun set,
finally drying all night under the moon
into papier-mâché souvenirs. Today
the rain would not let their lives burn.
Congratulations, Richard Blanco!