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Richard Blanco's inaugural poem, One Today, may have addressed the whole nation, but the details were full of South Florida. Blanco is the son of Cuban exiles. He was born in Spain and came to Miami as a small child. He trained to be a civil engineer but a class at Florida International University later launched his poetry career. His poetry draws on images of a childhood spent in a tight-knit South Florida Cuban community.

Richard Blanco: The Poem Not Taken


Miami-raised poet Richard Blanco had planned to take his partner to President Barack Obama’s second inauguration to sit on the platform as he read the poem he composed for the event.

He could only have one guest. But his partner had another idea, Blanco says.

“He says, ‘It should really be your mom to go with with you. This is so much more about the American Dream story.'”

So Blanco picked up the phone to call his mother to ask her if she even wanted to go.

“I wanted to see if she would be nervous or freak out and I told her the President might speak to her in English,  so she might have to speak a little English,” says Blanco.

Blanco says after he had her sufficiently prepared, he officially invited her to be his guest and that she answered in typical motherly fashion.

“She says, ‘Well, if you want me to go, I’ll go,’” Blanco recalls.

“Meantime, I’m fairly sure she had already bought the dress, the earrings, the matching shoes and purse,” he chuckles.

Blanco’s latest book is the story of how he got the honor of quite possibly any poet’s lifetime and the days leading up to his big moment in Washington, D.C.

“For All Of Us, One Today – An Inaugural Poet’s Journey.”

Enough to make any mother proud.

Listen to the interview with Richard Blanco above.

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