What might sound like a routine poetry reading and discussion promises to be much more as Berkshire Community College (BCC) hands its microphone to critically acclaimed poet and author Richard Blanco. Both the speaker and the topic have great relevance in this tormented election year: “Becoming an American: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey.”
Did you know that Blanco is the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history? As such he is also the youngest, the first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exiled parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize his body of work. Yet its language is one we all speak.
Whether speaking as the Cuban Blanco or the American Richard; the homebody or the world traveler; the scared boy or the openly gay man; the engineer or the inaugural poet; Blanco’s writings possess a story-rich quality that easily illuminates the human spirit.
Richard Blanco is one of the most beloved and influential poets and storytellers writing today. Blanco invites his audience to see themselves in his poetry and prose. President Barack Obama chose Blanco to become an inaugural poet because his “deeply personal poems are rooted in the idea of what it means to be an American.”
As a public speaker, teacher and memoirist, he continues to travel the world, inviting audiences to reconnect to the heart of the human experience and all of its beautiful diversity. Through the power of his words and presence, Blanco taps into our unspoken dreams, hopes and frustrations. He captures the human spirit and condition, in all of its complexities, opening up our minds and encouraging us to see beyond our differences to share in the universal experience of our humanity. Just as Carl Sagan brought cosmology into our living rooms, Blanco is appealing to audiences everywhere and inspiring a new way to think and feel about the poetry of our day, making it an accessible, inclusive and transformative part of our everyday lives.
This event, the last in BCC’s Latino Americans: 500 Years of History series, is made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association.
The event takes place at the Boland Theatre of Berkshire Community College, 1350 West St., Pittsfield MA on Thursday, May 5, 2016 from 12:15 to 2 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public. FORUM credit is available for BCC students. For more information, visit http://www.berkshirecc.edu/latinoamericans.