Best Author (2014)

Richard Blanco

"One sun rose on us today," Richard Blanco intoned from the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Millions of viewers watched on television, and President Barack Obama sat a few feet away, surrounded by the dignitaries gathered to celebrate his second inauguration. "Kindled over our shores, peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces of the Great Lakes," Blanco read on. The lines were more than just the opening to his acclaimed poem "One Today"; they were vividly worded landmarks in Miami history. On that cold January morning, Blanco, a native son raised in Westchester and educated at Christopher Columbus High and Florida International University, became the first immigrant, the first Latino, and the first openly gay inaugural poet. He hardly stopped there. By year's end, he'd had three other works published and gathered plaudits including the Paterson Poetry Prize and an honorary doctorate from Macalester College. Blanco may call Maine home these days, but it's the immigrant experience and the complex identities that collided every day of his Miami upbringing that still drive his work. "One Today," his inaugural poem read to the nation that morning in Washington, is a paean to America's diversity, but it's not difficult to find the DNA of Blanco's hometown in every line. In the weeks that followed that historic moment, he later told the Miami Herald, "I realized how much of a son of Miami I am."


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