Richard Blanco, selected by former President Barack Obama as the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history, will give a reading at Westminster School Oct. 7 as part of the Friday Nights at Westminster
series held during the academic year. The other reader will be Tia MacDonald ’23, the winner of the 2021-2022 Brian Ford Writing Prize, awarded by the English Department to the best writer in the Fifth Form class. As the winner, she earns the honor of being the first student reader of the year.
When selected as an inaugural poet, Blanco joined the ranks of such luminary poets as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. He was the youngest, first Latino, immigrant and gay person to serve in the role, he read his inaugural poem, “One Today,” at the ceremony.
Blanco describes himself as being made in Cuba, assembled in Spain and imported to the United States — meaning that his mother, seven months pregnant, and the rest of the family arrived as exiles from Cuba to Madrid, where he was born. Only 45 days later, the family immigrated once more and settled in Miami, where he was raised and educated. The negotiation of cultural identity and universal themes of place and belonging characterize his body of work.
Blanco is the author of the memoirs “The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood” and “For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey;” the poetry chapbooks “Matters of the Sea,” “One Today” and “Boston Strong;” the poetry collections “Looking for the Gulf Motel,” “Directions to the Beach of the Dead” and “City of a Hundred Fires;” and a children’s book of his inaugural poem, “One Today,” illustrated by Dav Pilkey.
“How to Love a Country,” his most recent book of poems, explores immigration, gun violence, racism, LGBTQ issues and more, in accessible and emotive verses.
The event begins at 7 p.m. and is free and open to vaccinated members of the public with advance registration by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
with the number of people attending. Reservations may be made until the day before the event.
This event will be held in the school’s theater, Werner Centennial Center (WCC). Ample parking is available in the parking lot adjacent to WCC.
The Michael Cervas Visiting Writers Program, which includes the Friday Nights at Westminster series, is supported by generous gifts from the Ford-Goldfarb English Department Enrichment Fund, the McKinley Fund, the Connell Music Fund, and the Friday Nights at Westminster Fund.