2019 Gerda Haas Honoree: Richard Blanco, Presidential Inaugural Poet


Richard Blanco is an historic presidential inaugural poet, public speaker, teacher and memoirist. When selected by President Obama to be the fifth presidential inaugural poet, Richard was the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. In 2015, the Academy of American Poets chose Blanco to serve as its first Education Ambassador. In that role, Richard is passionately dedicated to inspiring students through the close reading and writing of poems, and equally committed to empowering educators who wish to enhance their poetry and language arts curriculum with a focus on diversity and inclusion. Richard customizes his workshops to meet schools’ needs ranging from one-day visits to a multi-day Poet-In-Residence Program. Richard is an award-winning author and poet. 

His memoir, The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood (2014), is a poignant, hilarious, and inspiring exploration of his coming-of-age as the child of Cuban immigrants and his attempts to understand his place in America while grappling with his burgeoning artistic and sexual identities. In his latest collection of poems, How to Love a Country (Beacon Press, 2019), Blanco explores immigration, gun violence, racism, LGBTQ issues, and more, in accessible and emotive verses. 

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