Richard Blanco

RICHARD BLANCO

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Richard Blanco is the fifth inaugural poet in US history—the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban-exiled parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize his body of work. He is the author of three poetry collections: Looking for the Gulf MotelDirections to the Beach of the Deadand City of a Hundred Fires; and two memoirs: The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey. The University of Pittsburgh Press has published the commemorative chapbooks One Today, Boston Strong, and Matters of the Sea, the last of which Blanco read at the historic reopening of the US Embassy in Havana. In 2015, the inaugural poem One Today was released as a children’s book, in collaboration with the renowned illustrator, Dav Pilkey.  Blanco’s many awards 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, the Thom Gunn Award, a Lambda Literary Award, and two Maine Literary Awards. He is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, a Phi Beta Kappa Alumnus Member, and has received honorary doctorates from Macalester College, Colby College, and the University of Rhode Island. In 2015, The Academy of American Poets named him its first Education Ambassador. He has taught at Central Connecticut State University, Georgetown University, American University, and Wesleyan University. 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 shares his time between Bethel, Maine and Concord, Massachusetts.