|4/29/14 Diamine Chocolate Brown ink, Canson XL 140 lb. paper|
It was standing room only in the Seattle Public Library Northeast Branch’s community room, so I was happy I arrived early enough for a front-row seat. We were all there to hear Richard Blanco, who was the inaugural poet for President Obama last year. In his inaugural poem, “One Today,” Blanco speaks elegantly and movingly about what it means to be an American.
At 44, he’s the youngest inaugural poet. Blanco is also the first immigrant, Latino and gay writer to hold the honor. With humor and eloquence, he talked about his experience as a Cuban who immigrated to the U.S. in utero, the balance between the left and right sides of his brain (he’s an engineer as well as a poet) and his struggles with identity. Hearing him read that now-famous poem in the intimate setting of a neighborhood library somehow seemed even more powerful and uplifting than at the occasion for which he wrote it.
I knew he had seen me sketching, so I showed him the sketch after the reading, and he autographed it and asked me to e-mail it to him!
If you are not familiar with the poem, you can read the full text or view the video of his inaugural reading.