Latino Poet Who Has Read Locally Will Make Inaugural History (w/video)


It will be an inauguration of firsts on Jan. 21, as Sonia Sotomayor, the first Latina to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, will become the first Hispanic to swear in a president or a vice president. The Inauguration will also feature Richard Blanco – the first Latino poet and the youngest poet to read at the swearing-in ceremony.
Blanco read his poetry in Connecticut at the 2004 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival (see video below) and is scheduled to appear there again this summer on July 24. See the festival’s website for more information.
Blanco, 44, will be the youngest poet in inaugural history and the first Latino or gay person to recite a poem, according to the Presidential Inaugural Committee and reported by the Miami Herald.
“I’m honored that Richard Blanco will join me and Vice President Biden at our second Inaugural,” Obama said. “His contributions to the fields of poetry and the arts have already paved a path forward for future generations of writers. Richard’s writing will be wonderfully fitting for an Inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity.”
Blanco said the honor is “the very ‘stuff’ of the American Dream, which underlies so much of my work and my life’s story-America’s story, really. I am thrilled by the thought of coming together during this great occasion to celebrate our country and its people through the power of poetry.”
Obama was involved in the selection of participants in the Inaugural program, including Blanco.
“It’s an incredible honor to have Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor swear me in,” Vice President Biden said in a statement released by the Presidential Inaugural Committee and reported by a blog in the Houston Chronicle.  “I believed strongly that she would make a great justice, and it was one of the greatest pleasures of my career to be involved in her selection to the court. Above all, I’m happy for the chance to be sworn in by a friend – and someone I know will continue to do great things.”
Video of Richard Blanco reading his poetry in Connecticut in 2004:

Video and image courtesy Sunken Garden Poetry Festival