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For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet's Journey (Beacon Press)
For All of Us, One Today is a fluid, poetic story anchored by Richard Blanco's experiences as the inaugural poet in 2013, and beyond. In this brief and evocative narrative, he shares for the first time his journey as a Latino immigrant and openly gay man discovering a new, emotional understanding of what it means to be an American. He tells the story of the call from the White House committee and all the exhilaration and upheaval of the days that followed. He reveals the inspiration and challenges behind the creation of the inaugural poem, "One Today," as well as two other poems commissioned for the occasion ("Mother Country" and "What We Know of Country"), published here for the first time ever, alongside translations of all three of those poems into his native Spanish. Finally, Richard Blanco reflects on his life-changing role as a public voice since the inauguration, his spiritual embrace of Americans everywhere, and his vision for poetry's new role in our nation's consciousness. Like the inaugural poem itself, "For All of Us, One Today" speaks to what makes this country and its people great, marking a historic moment of hope and promise in our evolving American landscape.
Praise for For All of Us, One Today
"In this charming and engrossing book, Richard Blanco traces his personal and literary development that led to his appointment as the inaugural poet. The high drama here is the backstage look into the pressure and process of writing the poem itself and the thrill of reading it to the world."--Billy Collins
"In this moving, intimate memoir Richard Blanco reveals how a poet works--where the words he uses, the images he creates, come from. This is a book not just about one poet's journey, but about the power of poetry to capture moments, to transform lives, and to illuminate truths."--Anderson Cooper
"Blanco showed great courage...and it's courage that is the most important of all virtues because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently."--Dr. Maya Angeleou
"In a testament to the beauty of the American spirit, Richard Blanco recounts his inspiring journey--from the traditions of his childhood to the magic of an historic presidential inauguration. Through the lens of this one man's amazing personal journey, we are transfixed by another uniquely American story."--House Leader Nancy Pelosi
"Richard's story is at once deeply personal and uniquely, universally American. The specifics of our lives may not be the same, but we all share a relationship with a country that is an ongoing work in progress, and as Richard elegantly reveals through his experiences, what we do defines that work for those who follow. America shapes the people within her, and in return we shape America. This is a portrait of a nation and its people, each working to make the other better."--Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union
Selected by President Obama to be the fifth inaugural poet in history, Richard Blanco followed in the footsteps of Robert Frost, Maya Angelou, Miller Williams and Elizabeth Alexander. He read his inaugural poem, "One Today" on January 21, 2013. The negotiation of cultural identity and universal themes of place and belonging, characterize his three collections of poetry: City of a Hundred Fires, awarded the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press; Directions to The Beach of the Dead, recipient of the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center; and Looking for The Gulf Motel, winner of the Patterson Poetry Prize, a Maine Literary Poetry Award, and the Thom Gunn Award. His poems have also appeared in The Best American Poetry 2000, Great American Prose Poems; and he has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and Fresh Air with Terry Gross, as well as CNN, Telemundo, AC360, BBC, Univision, and PBS. Richard Blanco is a Fellow of the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, recipient of two Florida Artist Fellowships, and is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. A builder of cities as well as poems, he is also a professional civil engineer currently living in Bethel, Maine.
Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders