Miami Book Fair International > Authors

Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco describes himself as made in Cuba, assembled in Spain, and imported to the USA.  The child of Cuban immigrants who fled Cuba after the Revolution, Blanco’s family eventually settled in Miami where he was raised and educated. Growing up among close-knit Cuban exiles instilled in him a strong sense of community, dignity, and identity that he’d carry into his adult life as a writer. Though possessed by a strong creative spirit since childhood, Blanco also excelled in math and the sciences. He earned his BS at Florida International University in 1991 and began working as a consulting civil engineer in Miami. In his mid-20s, he was compelled to express his creative side through writing, prompted by questions of cultural identity and his personal history. He returned to Florida International University where he was mentored by poet Campbell McGrath, and earned a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing in 1997. Blanco released his first book of poetry in 1999, City of a Hundred Fires, a critically acclaimed collection that won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. In 2005, he published Directions to the Beach of the Dead, which received the Beyond Margins Award. The year 2011 saw Blanco putting forth the electronic chap book Place of Mind, and the following year he released Looking for the Gulf Motel, a full collection of poems that touches on the author's life as a gay man negotiating space between domestic and immigrant cultures. After the 2012 re-election of President Barack Obama, Blanco was informed that he had been chosen as the fifth inaugural poet of the United States, following in the footsteps of greats like Elizabeth Alexander, Maya Angelou and Robert Frost. He would recount that experience in For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey. In his latest book, the memoir The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood (Ecco; $25.99), Blanco explores his coming-of-age within two imaginary worlds: his parents’ nostalgic 1950s Cuba and his imagined America, the country he saw on reruns of The Brady Bunch and Leave it to Beaver. Richard Blanco’s personal narrative is a resonant account of how he discovered his authentic self, and ultimately, a deeper understanding of what it means to be American.

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