Bernard McKenna Richard Blanco papers

Biographical and Historical Notes

Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco (born 1968) is known for his poetry that explores themes of loss, love, and family in multicultural communities; he also served as President Barack Obama's inaugural poet in 2013.

Blanco has described himself as "made in Cuba, assembled in Spain, and imported to the United States." He is a child of Cuban emigrants who fled to Madrid where Blanco was born and then immigrated to the U.S. immediately after his birth. His family lived first in New York City and then moved to Miami, where Blanco grew up. Blanco has a B.S. in civil engineering and an MFA in creative writing from Florida International University and has worked as both a practicing civil engineer and an instructor of English and literature at several colleges and universities.

He published his first book of poetry City of a Hundred Fires in 1997. His second book, Directions to the City of the Dead , was published in 2005. His most recent collection isLooking for The Gulf Motel (2012). All of his works are highly acclaimed and have won many awards. He is currently working on his memoir, For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet's Journey.

Blanco was chosen to be President Barack Obama's inaugural poet for his January 2013 inauguration, making Blanco the youngest poet as well as the first Latino, the first immigrant, and the first openly gay poet to be chosen. He has published a chapbook version of his poem "One Today" that was read at the inauguration, as well as "Boston Strong," a poem written and presented in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013.


"Richard Blanco." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2013. Literature Resource Center. 30 Sept. 2013.

Blanco, Richard. "Bios, Interviews, Features, Etc." Richard Blanco. Accessed 1 October 2013.

Medina, Brenda. "Cuban Exile Mother of Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco Now in Spotlight." Miami Herald, January 21, 2013. Accessed 3 October 2013.

Scope and Content Note

This small collection contains papers that pertain to the life and writings of Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco (born 1968), who was President Barack Obama’s 2013 inaugural poet and is the author of three books of poetry that explore themes of loss, love, and family in multicultural communities. The collection includes a typescript of his second book of poetry and a treatment for an unpublished novel, as well as personal comments in printed emails and notes.

The collection was maintained by University of Delaware Associate Professor of English Bernard McKenna, a longtime friend from whom Blanco has sought advice about published and unpublished works. McKenna and Blanco met while teaching at Miami-Dade Community College in 1998.

The collection comprises a novel treatment, a poetry manuscript, correspondence, an interview, catalogs, and a photograph, highlighting McKenna's personal and literary friendship with Blanco.