Richard Blanco Will Read Poem at Reopening of U.S. Embassy in Cuba

Miami poet Richard Blanco announced that he will read a poem in honor the reopening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba. The inaugural poet made the announcement on his Facebook page. "I’ve had to keep this a secret for months, but it’s finally out: the US Department of State has asked me to write a poem for the re-opening of the US Embassy in Cuba, which I will read at the ceremony on August 14th in Havana! So incredibly emotional for me—not only to witness this historic moment, but also to be asked to be part of it. I’m humbled, honored, and elated," Blanco wrote. 

Blanco shared the news with a link to his interview with MSNBC's Jose Diaz-Balart. In the interview, the two Miamians spoke about the historic weight of the United State's decision to renew ties with the communist nation. Blanco also describes his writing process as well as the jumble of emotions he feels about the upcoming event. “It’s one of the most of emotional and complex poems I’ve ever had to write,” he told MSNBC. He continued:
“It seems like so much of what all my writing has been about leading up to this very moment, the negotiation of cultural identities. This just seems so surreal still. This is really in some sense just the beginning, the dawn of new things to come. I’ve always felt like my heart has been split between two countries, two heritages, two loyalties. And so the poem is in a way reconciling that part of me, personally.”

Blanco's reference to the "two heritages" is a theme that is persistent in his poetry as well as his recent memoir The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood. In the book, Blanco reflects on two central issues, namely how and nationality place can mold identity — both as an artist and a gay man.

Since the United States announced that it would renew relationships with Cuba, the Florida International University has been an advocate for "dialogue" between the two nations. He recently launched a new project, "Bridges to/from Cuba," to facilitate artistic discourse between the two countries. The program, co-founded with Cuban-American writer Ruth Behar, seeks to end what Blanco calls the "emotional embargo." 
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Stassa Edwards
Contact: Stassa Edwards