Richard Blanco, 1968 -

  • Known For: Poetry
  • Maine Connection: Richard Blanco was selected as the inaugural poet in 2012 by President Barack Obama. He lives in Bethel, Maine.


Richard Blanco is the fifth presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history - the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize his body of work. He is the author of the poetry collections Looking for the Gulf Motel, Directions to the Beach of the Dead, and City of a Hundred Fires; the poetry chapbooks Matters of the Sea, One Today, and Boston Strong; a children's book of his inaugural poem, "One Today," illustrated by Dav Pilkey; and Boundaries, a collaboration with photographer Jacob Hessler. His latest book of poems, How to Love a Country (Beacon Press, 2019), both interrogates the American narrative, past and present, and celebrates the still unkept promise of its ideals. He has also authored the memoirs The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poets Journey. Blanco's many honors include the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press, the PEN/Beyond Margins Award, the Paterson Poetry Prize, a Lambda Literary Award, and two Maine Literary Awards.

He has been a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow and received honorary doctorates from Macalester College, Colby College, and the University of Rhode Island. He has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and NPRs Fresh Air. The Academy of American Poets named him its first Education Ambassador in 2015. Blanco has continued to write occasional poems for organizations and events such as the re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana. He lives with his partner in Bethel, ME.

Selected works by Richard Blanco

  • How to Love a Country, 2019
  • Boundaries, 2017
  • Matters of the Sea/Cosas del Mar, 2015
  • The Prince of Los Cocuyos, 2014
  • One Today, 2013
  • Looking for the Gulf Motel, 2012
  • Directions to the Beach of the Dead, 2005
  • City of a Hundred Fires, 1998