April marks National Poetry Month in the U.S., and this April lauded poet Richard Blanco will address the Asheville School community during the annual Founders' Day Convocation on Thursday, April 26, at 7:15 p.m. in the Walker Arts Center's Graham Theater.
Richard Blanco was selected by President Barack Obama as the fifth inaugural poet in U.S. history, and he is the youngest and the first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Blanco was born in Spain to Cuban exiled parents and raised in Miami, Florida. His work grapples with themes of cultural identity, community and belonging.
He is the author of three poetry collections: "Looking for the Gulf Motel," "Directions to the Beach of the Dead," and "City of a Hundred Fires;" and two memoirs: "The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood" and "For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet's Journey."
The University of Pittsburgh Press has published the commemorative chapbooks "One Today," "Boston Strong," and "Matters of the Sea," the last of which Blanco read at the historic reopening of the US Embassy in Havana. In 2015, the inaugural poem "One Today" was released as a children's book, in collaboration with the renowned illustrator, Dav Pilkey.
Blanco has taught at Georgetown University, Wesleyan University, American University, and in spring 2018 will serve as artist-in-residence at Colby College.
Director of Community Pluralism Varghese Alexander saw Blanco speak in 2016 and is excited to hear him address students, faculty members, and alumni. "Blanco spoke about the idea of home and searching for home so movingly," Alexander said. "The way he interspersed his poetry and visuals and moved a crowd of 6,000 people was amazing."
Blanco speaks to the Asheville School community as part of a speaker series on multicultural issues of today, in recognition of the school's 50th anniversary of racial integration.
"Everybody is looking for home and searching for an identity," Alexander said. "This definitely resonates with teenagers, and it's important to recognize that this journey doesn't end in high school. His perspective of finding community is something I hope all our students can appreciate and connect with."
Photo courtesy of Blue Flower Arts.