Richard Blanco, who last month became the fifth presidential inaugural poet, will be at Union College in Schenectady tonight at 7-PM to read from his works. Previous inaugural poets have included Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.
Although his poems have appeared in top literary journals and anthologies, including The Nation, New Republic, Michigan Quarterly Review and The Best American Poetry, Blanco was not widely known until he was chosen by President Barack Obama as the inaugural poet.
Obama selected Blanco because his “deeply personal poems are rooted in the idea of what it means to be an American.” Blanco became the first immigrant, the first Latino and the first openly gay person to be named the inaugural poet. At the inauguration, Blanco read his poem, One Today – which is being released in book form today.
As the buzz surrounding President Obama’s second inauguration grew, so did talk over the point of celebrating the ceremony for a second time. Some asked whether this was a necessary tradition, or simply a costly affair that was inappropriate for such tough economic times.
Yet an estimated one million people chose to travel to the nation’s capital to see the ceremony on Monday—often standing from a distance where nothing could be seen—and those that I spoke with had no trouble explaining to me why the ceremony was important to them.
The country came together for a rare moment of political unity on Monday. In today’s Congressional Corner, Union College political science professor Brad Hays tells WAMC’s Alan Chartock that President Obama’s inaugural address focused on equality.