Richard Blanco was chosen by President Barack Obama to be the fifth inaugural poet in history, joining the likes of Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams, and Elizabeth Alexander. He presented his debut poem, One Today, as an honored participant in the formal ceremony on January 21, 2013, as the youngest, first Latina, first immigrant, and first out homosexual person to serve in such a role. Blanco was created in Cuba, constructed in Spain, and imported to the United States, which meant that his mother, who was seven months pregnant at the time, and the rest of his family arrived in Madrid as exiles from Cuba. The family fled again only 45 days later, this time to Miami, where Blanco was raised and educated. His three collections of poetry, City of a Hundred Fires (winner of the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press), Directions to the Beach of the Dead (winner of the PEN American Center's Beyond Margins Award), and Searching for The Gulf Motel (winner of the PEN American Center's Beyond Margins Award), all deal with cultural identity and universal themes of place and belonging.
His poems have also been published in the Best American Poetry and Great American Prose Poems collections, and he has been on CBS Sunday Morning, National Public Radio's All Things Considered and Fresh Air, as well as other major U.S. news outlets. CNN, Telemundo, AC360, the BBC, Univision, and PBS are among the national and international media outlets that have covered the story. Blanco is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, a Bread Loaf Writers Conference fellow, and the recipient of two Florida Artist Fellowships. He is a professional civil engineer currently residing in Bethel, Maine, and is a builder of cities as well as poems.