Poetry at Literati: Richard Blanco, w/ Ruth Behar

Thursday, November 30, 2023 - 7:00pm

We welcome acclaimed poet Richard Blanco in support of his new collection Homeland of My Body. He'll be joined in conversation by Ruth Behar.

About the book: A rich, accomplished, intensely intimate collection with two full sections of new poems bookending Blanco's selections from his five previous volumes

"An engineer, poet, Cuban American...his poetry bridges cultures and languages--a mosaic of our past, our present, and our future--reflecting a nation that is hectic, colorful, and still becoming."--President Joe Biden, conferring the National Humanities Medal on Richard Blanco, 2023

In this collection of over 100 poems, Richard Blanco has carefully selected poems from his previous books that represent his evolution as a writer grappling with his identity, working to find and define "home," and bookended them with new poems that address those issues from a fresh, more mature perspective, allowing him to approach surrendering the pain and urgency of his past explorations. Pausing at this pivotal moment in mid-career, Blanco reexamines his life-long quest to find his proverbial home and all that it encompasses: love, family, identity and ultimately art itself. In the closing section of the volume, he has come to understand and internalize the idea that "home" is not one place, not one thing, and lives both inside him and inside his art.

The poems range in form, voice, and setting, showcasing his command of craft, but in essence they are one continuous reflection on the existential question at the core of all of Blanco's poetry: how can we find our place in the world. All are characterized by his keen eye, deep sensibility, and polished craft, without pretense. This volume is a gift to Blanco's many readers but even more to those who have yet to discover that they can understand, and fall in love with poetry, that a poet can speak to them about his own and their own lives so profoundly, and that this poet, as Barack Obama discovered, can speak for all of us.

Richard Blanco has been justly celebrated for his poetic gifts and his command of the many forms poetry can take, from the finely structured to the prose poem formats. His previous volumes have been praised by Patricia Smith, Eileen Myles, Sandra Cisneros, Elizabeth Alexander, and many others. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and dozens of other publications.

Richard Blanco is the recent recipient of the National Humanities Medal. He has received awards for several of his books, including the poetry collections How To Love a County and Looking for The Gulf Motel, and memoirs For All of Us, One Today and The Prince of Los Cocuyos. He was selected by Barack Obama as the fifth presidential inaugural poet in US history, and his body of work and advocacy are characterized by his personal negotiation of cultural identity and universal themes of place and belonging. In 2022, he was named the inaugural poet laureate of Miami-Dade County. He was also named as the American Academy of Poets first-ever education ambassador. Connect with him online: richard-blanco.com, Twitter (rblancopoet), Facebook (RichardBlancoPoetry), and Instagram (poetrichardblanco).

Ruth Behar, the Pura Belpré Award-winning author of Lucky Broken Girl and Letters from Cuba, was born in Havana, Cuba, grew up in New York, and has also lived in Spain and Mexico. Her work also includes poetry, memoir, and the acclaimed travel books An Island Called Home and Traveling Heavy. She was the first Latina to win a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, and other honors include a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and being named a "Great Immigrant" by the Carnegie Corporation. An anthropology professor at the University of Michigan, she lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Event address: 
124 E. Washington
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Homeland of My Body: New and Selected Poems By Richard Blanco Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807012970
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beacon Press - October 24th, 2023