Best Local Writer Miami 1999 - Richard Blanco
He's young, he's Cuban, he's got a new book. And he's well worth hearing as well as reading. At one evening reading Blanco showed slides from his childhood in early-Seventies Miami, and read poems that were at once funny, sentimental, and sad. He represents a new generation of Cubans in Miami, who feel Cuba through the memory of their parents rather than the raw exile emotion itself. Blanco writes poetry of an era when his parents' nostalgia for their native home was all-consuming and when Cuban-American life was in its infancy. "None of my brothers or cousins/were named Greg, Peter, or Marcia," Blanco writes in his 1998 debut book, City of a Hundred Fires. And those Brady Bunch neighbors in the new land, "they didn't have pork on Thanksgiving." Blanco remembers smuggling cremitas de leche into the movie theater on Calle Ocho, and the older men outside "clinging to one another's lies of lost wealth/ashamed and empty as hollow trees." The second half of the book consists of Blanco's poetic impressions of the cause of all this passion: Cuba. Lucky for us, Blanco will have more time to explore youth and adulthood in Miami. The Miami Beach resident just quit his job as an engineer to work on his poetry full-time.