Poet Richard Blanco to read at President Obama's Inaugural

Craig Dilger for The New York Times

The Presidential Inaugural Committee has announced that Richard Blanco has been chosen to read a poem at President Obama’s inauguration ceremony on Jan. 21. The choice marks a couple firsts: Blanco will become the first Hispanic and the first gay poet to read at a presidential inauguration. He will also, at 44, be the youngest poet to do so.

In a recent posting on the NPR website, Blanco said, “Even though it’s been a few weeks since I found out, just thinking about my parents and my grandparents and all the struggles they’ve been through, and how, you know, here I am, first-generation Cuban-American, and this great honor that has just come to me, and just feeling that sense of just incredible gratitude and love.”

The New York Times writes that Blanco, a son of Cuban exiles, has felt “a spiritual connection” with Obama from the moment he burst onto the political scene. Like Mr. Obama, the Times reports, “Blanco has been on a quest for personal identity through the written word. He said his affinity for Mr. Obama springs from his own feeling of straddling different worlds; he is Latino and gay (and worked as a civil engineer while pursuing poetry). His poems are laden with longing for the sights and smells of the land his parents left behind.”

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