Bernard McKenna Richard Blanco papers


Creator: Blanco, Richard, 1968-
Date(s): 2000-circa 2011
Bulk Dates: 2002-2005
Call Number: MSS 0669
Language: Materials in English and Spanish.
Abstract: The Bernard McKenna Richard Blanco papers comprises .3 linear feet of typescripts, printed emails, programs, notes, and photographs pertaining to the literary output of Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco (born 1968). The collection was compiled by University of Delaware English professor Bernard McKenna in the course of his longtime friendship with Blanco.
Physical Description: 0.3s (1 box)
Source: Gift of Bernard McKenna, 2013.
Processing: Processed and encoded by Rachael Green, October 2013. Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

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.

Using these materials

Shelving Summary

  • Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)

Access Information

The collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation

MSS 0669, Bernard McKenna Richard Blanco papers, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Container List

"Burning Rain" novel treatment, 2005 Box 1, F1

A ten-page treatment for an unpublished novel "Burning Rain" about an academic searching for her familial roots in Cuba. Along with the treatment is the email that was sent 2005 March 18 to McKenna introducing the project and asking for feedback, as well as a final page with specific questions on the project.

Carlos Betancourt gallery exhibit catalogs, 2002-2004 Box 1, F2

Catalogs from art exhibits done by a personal friend, Puerto Rican-American artist Carlos Betancourt (born 1966). Betancourt took the cover photo of Directions to the Beach of the Dead (2005) and to whom the book is partially dedicated. Betancourt and Blanco were both members of the artist community in Miami and Betancourt attended Miami-Dade Community College where Blanco and McKenna taught. The catalogs detail both solo and group exhibits that featured Betancourt in 2002 and 2004. This folder includes a handwritten and signed note about the catalogs.

"Journey to the Beach of the Dead" typescript, 2005 Box 1, F3

A typescript of Blanco's second book of poetry, Directions to the Beach of the Dead (2005), with an earlier title "Journey to the Beach of the Dead." This typescript was the version he sent to publishers; the extensive edits were made to poems including "November Crosswords" ("Empty Crosswords" in the published edition), "Brothers," "No More Than This, Provincetown," and "Sending Palms in a Letter." This manuscript contains several poems not published in the final version, such as "Missouri Between Venice and Paris," "Some Nights on the Back Porch," and "Nature Over Coffee."

Interview and miscellaneous, 2000-2011 Box 1, F4

Miscellaneous items such as an email interview conducted in 2000 by a student from Wesley College, a photograph of Blanco at Bernard McKenna's wedding, and an initialed handwritten note introducing a published copy of Blanco’s third collection of poetry, Looking for the Gulf Motel.

Names & Subjects