Event: A Reading by Richard Blanco
Date: Tuesday, March 25,2014
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Where: Pollak Theatre, 400 Cedar Ave., West Long Branch, NJ
Sponsored By: Monmouth University’s Center for the Arts
Cost: Free and Open to the Public
WEST LONG BRANCH, NJ (March 12, 2014) – The 2013-2014 Visiting Writers Series continues with a reading by President Obama’s inaugural poet Richard Blancoon Tuesday, March 25 at 4:30 p.m. in Pollak Theatre on Monmouth University’s campus. In 2013, Blanco was chosen to serve as the fifth inaugural poet of the United States, following in the footsteps as such great writers as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. Blanco performed One Today, an original poem he wrote for the occasion, becoming the youngest, first Latino, immigrant and openly gay writer to hold the honor.
Born in Madrid in 1968, Blanco immigrated as an infant with his Cuban-exile family to the United States. He was raised and educated in Miami, earning a B.S. in civil engineering and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Florida International University. Blanco has been a practicing engineer, writer and poet since 1991. He has traveled extensively in his adult life, living and working throughout Europe and South America. He has taught at Georgetown University, American University, Writer’s Center and Central Connecticut State University.
Blanco’s first book of poetry, City of a Hundred Fires was published in 1998 to critical acclaim. The collection explored his cultural yearnings and contradictions as a Cuban-American, and captured the emotional details of his transformational first trip to Cuba, his figurative homeland. Fellow poet Spencer Reese praises his poetry noting, "Blanco's speech invites the reader in with its search for home. His lyrics open doors onto his Cuban immigrant family, his father's early death, and his own migration from a life in Florida to a life in Maine. His speech houses a generous love of others and a persistent reach for what is absent."
Blanco has received numerous honors for his writings and performances, including an honorary doctorate from Macalester College and being named a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. His first book, City of a Hundred Fires received the prestigious Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize. His second book, Directions to the Beach of the Dead won the PEN / American Beyond Margins Award. His third book, Looking for The Gulf Motel received various accolades, including the Tom Gunn Award, the Maine Literary Award and the Paterson Prize. His poems have appeared in countless literary journals and anthologies, including Best American Prose Poems and Ploughshares.
Blanco has written and performed occasional poems for such organizations as Freedom to Marry, the Tech Awards and the Fragrance Awards. In May 2013, Blanco wrote “Boston Strong,” an occasional poem he performed at the TD Boston Garden Benefit Concert and at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Following his performances, he released a limited edition Boston Strong chapbook, with all proceeds going to those most affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. Blanco continues to write and perform for audiences around the world. In addition to his occasional poetry and performances, he is currently working on a full-length memoir and is collaborating with renowned illustrator Dav Pilkey on a children’s book.
Monmouth University’s Center for the Arts Visiting Writers Series brings the most celebrated poets and authors from around the world (Andrei Codrescu, Colm Tóibín, Adam Zagajewski,) and our own back yard (Long Branch’s own US Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky) to campus. With our Visiting Writers Series, we hope the audience will experience a renewed sense of their relationship to poetry and fiction, to language, and to be moved emotionally by that writer’s representation of what it means to be a human being, whether that experience is one of joy, celebration, longing, or sorrow.
For additional information, please contact the director of the Visiting Writers Series, Michael Thomas at 732-263-5635 or visit online at www.monmouth.edu/arts.