WBEZ | Cuban-American http://www.wbez.org/tags/cuban-american Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Richard Blanco -- gay, Latino poet -- chosen for inauguration http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-01/richard-blanco-gay-latino-poet-chosen-inauguration-104796 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202013-01-09%20at%2011.48.48%20AM.png" style="float: right; height: 399px; width: 300px;" title="Richard Blanco" />For years, whenever I visited my mom in Miami, she&rsquo;d casually mention a friend she ran into now and then whom, she said, also had a child who&rsquo;s a poet. I don&rsquo;t actually identify much as a poet -- I&rsquo;m much too in awe of real poets to do more than dip a toe in -- but I didn&rsquo;t go out of my way to mention this. What I soon realized was that her friend&rsquo;s offspring and I shared several attributes not often sources of pride in our families, and what she and her friend shared, I think, was a way of being relaxed and happy about their queer Cuban children and their writing -- in both cases, in a language different than theirs.</div></div><p>Several years ago, long after we&rsquo;d met -- though I don&rsquo;t remember where we met, exactly, somewhere writerly or Cuban or both -- Richard Blanco and I were at a bar here in Chicago during an AWP event and he said, &ldquo;You know your mom&rsquo;s friendis my mom, right?&rdquo;<br /><br />So when I heard today&rsquo;s news -- that this sweet, kind, talented, gorgeous and big-hearted Cuban gay man had been tapped as President Barack Obama&rsquo;s inaugural poet for his second swearing in -- I had to take a breath and hold my heart.<br /><br />You&rsquo;d think at my age, after the moon landing and the first black president and nanotechnology and being a first time mom in my 50s and seeing my own mom light up with joy over her lesbian-mommed grandson, that I couldn&rsquo;t possibly be swept away with any kind of identity-politics related firsts.<br /><br />And when my wife first mentioned <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/09/books/richard-blanco-2013-inaugural-poet.html?_r=0&amp;pagewanted=all">Richard&rsquo;s appointment</a> this morning, I was happy and surprised. But as it sunk in -- a Cuban gay man is the inaugural poet! -- I just broke down and cried. My keyboard is drenched as I write. I can&#39;t even imagine what our moms must be yakking about, how the giddy they must be, and how amazed -- how utterly <em>amazed</em> they must be because, frankly, I am too.<br /><br />Change is slow, it&rsquo;s glacial. And then one day you wake up and you realize you haven&rsquo;t had to come out to anybody in ages, and when you do, nobody cares. You have in-laws, not &ldquo;in-laws,&rdquo; and there&rsquo;s nothing remarkable about your family structure when you take your son to Spanish Wiggleworms at the Old Town School (and there&#39;s <em>Spanish Wiggleworms</em>!). You log in to Facebook and the President of the United States, the most powerful man on earth, has chosen a guy you know -- a fag, a cubiche who likes to joke that he was made in the U.S. with Cuban parts, with whom you codeswitch about Miyami and lechón and our mamis -- to consecrate this moment in history with his -- <em>our </em>-- words.<br /><br /><em>&iexcl;Guao!</em><br /><br />And you nod and grin through your stupid tears because you know -- you really know -- that damn arch really does bend, it really does indeed point to a shinier day.<br /><br />Felicidades, querido Richard!<br /><br />If you have want a preview, if you want to hear Richard read from &ldquo;América,&rdquo; a poem from his book, <em>City of a Hundred Fires</em>, click <a href="https://soundcloud.com/richard-blanco-poetry/audio-recording-america">here</a>. He will, of course, write something new for the inauguration.<br />&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 09 Jan 2013 11:28:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2013-01/richard-blanco-gay-latino-poet-chosen-inauguration-104796