Richard Blanco: End Cuba's "Emotional Embargo"

No matter how you slice it, Cuba is a complicated topic to breach — especially if you live in Miami. Depending on where you were born, when (if) you came over, and what generation you fall into, the island has always been close, yet seemingly of another world.

For all that and more, poet Richard Blanco has co-launched a writing project to lift what he refers to as Cuba’s “emotional embargo.” Along with writer and friend Ruth Behar, Bridges to/from Cuba will serve as a forum for Cubans on and off the island to share their hopes, fears, and dreams for the future as the U.S. and Cuba attempt to normalize relations.

Both Blanco and Behar are Cuban-Americans, and both wanted to combat what they believe is a distorted image of Cuba. According to their website, the blog’s purpose is to, “build bridges that connect Cubans everywhere and lift the emotional embargo among us all, as we move forward together with our apprehensions and hopes, questions and convictions, doubts and dreams, into a new era of U.S.-Cuban relations and the Cuba of tomorrow.”

Blanco is the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history and is the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in the role. Born in Madrid to Cuban parents and raised in Miami, he’s the author of memoirs, poetry chapbooks, and poetry collections, including City of a Hundred Fires. Behar was born in Havana and grew up in New York, is a MacArthur Genius Award winner, has written many books including Translated Woman: Crossing the Border with Esperanza’s Story, and is the co-editor of Women Writing Culture.

Both Blanco and Behar don’t want the project to be political, and hope to have everyone from Cuban scholars to Pitbull contribute. All pieces will be published in English and Spanish.

Besides being helmed by two accomplished writers, Bridges to/from Cuba has a stellar advisory board including Liz Balmaseda, Sandra Cisneros, Nilo Cruz, Edwidge Danticat, and David Lawrence.

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Dana De Greff