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Ep 053 The Poetry of Just Showing Up with Inaugurial Poet Richard Blanco

Feb 29, 2020


Richard Blanco’s mother, seven months pregnant, and the rest of the family arrived as exiles from Cuba to Madrid where he was born. 

Forty-five days later, the family immigrated once more to New York City, and eventually settled in Miami. Only a few weeks old, Blanco already belonged to three countries, a foreshadowing of the negotiations of cultural identity, community, and belonging that would shape his life and continue to inform his work. 

As a poet, memoirist, and essayist, Blanco is a sought-after speaker who captivates audiences around the nation and the world with his dynamic storytelling and powerful readings.

Advocating for diversity, LGBTQ rights, immigration, arts education, cultural exchange, and other important issues of our time, Blanco routinely speaks at a variety of venues and functions, including fundraisers and galas, professional development conferences, middle and high schools, universities, commencement ceremonies, writing conferences, and literary festivals.

Whether speaking as the Cuban Blanco or the American Richard, the homebody or the world traveler, the shy boy or the openly gay man, the civil engineer or the civic-minded poet, Blanco’s writings possess a story-rich quality that illuminates the human spirit. His work asks those universal questions we all ask ourselves on our own journeys: Where am I from? Where do I belong? Who am I in this world?


Here is what you will hear in this podcast:

* hear the big message he wants to convay to the world today.

* what it means to be dependence, independent and interdependent

* the influence of his parents being 2nd language english speakers and how he learned the linguistic power of language

* how language is not just a form of communication but rather a way fo being in the world.

* how growing up in a family who didn’t know who the Rolling Stones were, and was homophobic around the arts and the creative curiosity that led him to poetry.

*what happens when you do something full heartedly without expectation.

* how things evolved slowly one step at a time

*how through exploring he found poetry, something that he never even knew was possible.

* the simplicity of following your heart, 

* how just showing up in those crisis moments and just continuing to show up in all aspects of life

* the experience of discovering something new

* hear him explore those moments of self doubt

* the dance of simplicity and success and ego and how it influenced his poetry

* the call from the white house

* the constant dance of ego and self doubt

* listen to his beautiful honesty and vulnerability of his being

* the love and innocence of simple guy who wrote for the joy of writing and the prestige of the accomplished writer who doesn’t want toilet down his readers and the effect both have on his writing 

*how challenging yourself keeps you relevant

* the harmony he feels at the creative edge

* the mindset that always second guesses ourselves and thinks we could have done better vs, showing up as the simple person we are and doing the best we can do

*writing as a spiritual practice and a practice of surrender

* that first moment of conscious as a kid and how that space brings him to innocence

*make me an instrument of your peace- st

* inaugural speech

* the hardest thing in living is getting to the simplest place or flow

* it was the best of times and the worst of times



A Poem for Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration

January 21, 2013


One sun rose on us today, kindled over our shores,

peeking over the Smokies, greeting the faces

of the Great Lakes, spreading a simple truth

across the Great Plains, then charging across the Rockies.

One light, waking up rooftops, under each one, a story

told by our silent gestures moving behind windows.

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning’s mirrors,

each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:

pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,

fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows

begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—

bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,

on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—

to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did

for twenty years, so I could write this poem.

All of us as vital as the one light we move through,

the same light on blackboards with lessons for the day:

equations to solve, history to question, or atoms imagined,

the “I have a dream” we keep dreaming,

or the impossible vocabulary of sorrow that won’t explain

the empty desks of twenty children marked absent

today, and forever. Many prayers, but one light

breathing color into stained glass windows,

life into the faces of bronze statues, warmth

onto the steps of our museums and park benches

as mothers watch children slide into the day.

One ground. Our ground, rooting us to every stalk

of corn, every head of wheat sown by sweat

and hands, hands gleaning coal or planting windmills

in deserts and hilltops that keep us warm, hands

digging trenches, routing pipes and cables, hands

as worn as my father’s cutting sugarcane

so my brother and I could have books and shoes.

The dust of farms and deserts, cities and plains

mingled by one wind—our breath. Breathe. Hear it

through the day’s gorgeous din of honking cabs,

buses launching down avenues, the symphony

of footsteps, guitars, and screeching subways,

the unexpected song bird on your clothes line.

Hear: squeaky playground swings, trains whistling,

or whispers across café tables, Hear: the doors we open

for each other all day, saying: hello / shalom,

buon giorno / howdy / namaste / or buenos días

in the language my mother taught me—in every language

spoken into one wind carrying our lives

without prejudice, as these words break from my lips.

One sky: since the Appalachians and Sierras claimed

their majesty, and the Mississippi and Colorado worked

their way to the sea. Thank the work of our hands:

weaving steel into bridges, finishing one more report

for the boss on time, stitching another wound

or uniform, the first brush stroke on a portrait,

or the last floor on the Freedom Tower

jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience.

One sky, toward which we sometimes lift our eyes

tired from work: some days guessing at the weather

of our lives, some days giving thanks for a love

that loves you back, sometimes praising a mother

who knew how to give, or forgiving a father

who couldn’t give what you wanted.

We head home: through the gloss of rain or weight

of snow, or the plum blush of dusk, but always—home,

always under one sky, our sky. And always one moon

like a silent drum tapping on every rooftop

and every window, of one country—all of us—

facing the stars

hope—a new constellation

waiting for us to map it,

waiting for us to name it—together


THE PRAYER OF ST FRANCIS that Richard referenced


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred, let me sow love

Where there is injury, pardon

Where there is doubt, faith

Where there is despair, hope

Where there is darkness, light

And where there is sadness, joy

O Divine Master, grant that I may

Not so much seek to be consoled as to console

To be understood, as to understand

To be loved, as to love

For it is in giving that we receive

And it’s in pardoning that we are pardoned

And it’s in dying that we are born to Eternal Life



to find out more about Richard:



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Richard you can read Richard’s poetry in his latestest book HOW TO LOVE A COUNTRY, please go to:


To find out more about Danny:

www.The MosaicOnline.Com

to buy danny’s book, The Mosaic:

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