Inaugural poet pays homage to American experience

Richard Blanco: 'I felt overwhelmed in a great way'

WASHINGTON - Poet Richard Blanco has delivered an inaugural poem paying homage to the American experience.

Blanco, at age 44 the youngest ever inaugural poet, recited a poem that painted vivid scenes about America and included reflections on his experience growing up as Cuban exile in New York City and Miami.

"To know that they (President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden) were right there behind me is such an amazing feeling," Blanco told Local 10's Jen Herrera.

His poem, "One Today," reflected on common American experiences, reciting: "My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors, each one yawning to life."

"I felt overwhelmed in a great way and a sense of love and getting along and peace," said Blanco. "And I certainly felt more connected to this country than ever before in my life."

LISTEN: Blanco talks with Jen Herrera

Blanco was born in Spain but moved to the United States with his parents. He was an engineer before he took up poetry. Blanco is the first Hispanic and the first openly gay person to serve in the role of inaugural poet.

"I'm curious so much attention has been given. I think it's the right time and I think if you look at what Obama stands for, it seems like the right time," said Blanco.

Blanco said "One Today" took several drafts and that he improvised some of it during the inauguration ceremony.

"All of here in Miami, we heard you loud and clear when you mentioned the Freedom Tower. How critical was it for you to include your Cuban roots? I imagine that part was not ad-libbed," said Herrera.

"I am one of those one that I was talking about, and so I felt like I needed to give America a little bit of my story, our story as Cuban-Americans, as Cubans, as exiles," he said.

Blanco's mother was also in the crowd. He said his mother left him one note on the day.

"She is funny. She gave me a funny quote. She said, 'Maybe now they'll give me a raise at the bank' where she works," said Blanco.

He has published three books of poetry while maintaining his career as an engineer.

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