Inaugural Poet to Visit Wentworth

January 26, 2016

 Inaugural Poet to Visit Wentworth

 Inaugural Poet to Visit Wentworth

Celebrated author Richard Blanco, a civil engineer turned poet who has used his writing to probe identity issues and explore his Cuban roots, will visit Wentworth Institute of Technology Feb. 16, to speak to students and sign copies of his books.

Beginning at 4:00 p.m. in the multipurpose room in Beatty Hall, his appearance is being sponsored by the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, and is free and open to the public. Blanco’s books will be available for purchase.

Blanco’s visit is the kick-off event for the department’s Spring Poetry Series—designed to celebrate diversity and poetry, said Associate Professor Gloria Monaghan, whose poetry workshop classes at Wentworth are studying Blanco’s work.

The following background information was excerpted from Blanco’s website:

Blanco was selected by President Obama as the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history, joining others who have shared that distinction, including Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. He became the youngest person, the first Latino, first immigrant, and first openly gay person to serve in that role. For the January 2013 swearing-in ceremony, Blanco composed and recited a work titled, “One Today.”

“Blanco’s writings,” according to his website, “possess a story-rich quality that illuminates the human spirit. His work asks those universal questions we all ask ourselves on our own journeys: ‘Where am I from?’ ‘Where do I belong?’ ‘Who am I in this world?’”

The negotiation of cultural identity and universal themes of place and belonging characterize Blanco’s body of work, which includes the memoirs, The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood; For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey; the poetry chapbooks Matters of the Sea; and Boston Strong; the poetry collections Looking for the Gulf Motel; Directions to the Beach of the Dead; City of a Hundred Fires; and a children’s book of his inaugural poem, illustrated by Dav Pilkey.

His latest project is a blog co-created with Ruth Behar, Bridges to/from Cuba: Lifting the Emotional Embargo, which provides a cultural and artistic platform for sharing the real lives and complex emotional histories of thousands of Cubans across the globe.

Blanco’s literary honors include the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press; the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center; the Paterson Poetry Prize; two Maine Literary awards in poetry and memoir; and a 2015 Lambda Literary Award.

Blanco has written and performed occasional poems for organizations and major events including the re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba; the Boston Strong Benefit Concert; Freedom to Marry; the Fragrance Awards; and the Tech Awards in Silicon Valley.

Blanco and his work have been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and in other media from around the world, including CNN, Telemundo, AC360, BBC, Univision, and PBS. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications, such as the Best American Poetry series, the Nation, the New Republic, the Huffington Post, and Condé Nast Traveler.

A builder of cities as well as poems, Blanco holds a B.S. in civil engineering and an M.F.A in creative writing. He is a fellow of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. He has received honorary doctorates from Macalester College, Colby College, and the University of Rhode Island. He has taught at Central Connecticut State University, Georgetown University, and American University. The Academy of American Poets named him its first Education Ambassador in 2015.

Blanco splits his time between Bethel, Maine, and Boston.

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