Poetry Hub




Obama Selects Gay Latino Poet Richard Blanco to Read at Inauguration Ceremony: VIDEO

Blanco

President Obama has chosen Richard Blanco to write and recite an original poem at his inauguration later this month, the NYT reports:

Like Mr. Obama, who chronicled his multicultural upbringing in a best-selling autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," Mr. Blanco has been on a quest for personal identity through the written word. He said his affinity for Mr. Obama springs from his own feeling of straddling different worlds; he is Latino and gay (and worked as a civil engineer while pursuing poetry). His poems are laden with longing for the sights and smells of the land his parents left behind.

Now Mr. Obama is about to pluck Mr. Blanco out of the relatively obscure and quiet world of poetry and put him on display before the entire world. On Wednesday the president's inaugural planners will announce that Mr. Blanco is to be the 2013 inaugural poet, joining the ranks of notables like Robert Frost and Maya Angelou.

Blanco lives in Maine with his partner. He told the paper:

"Since the beginning of the campaign, I totally related to his life story and the way he speaks of his family, and of course his multicultural background. There has always been a spiritual connection in that sense. I feel in some ways that when I’m writing about my family, I’m writing about him."

Said Obama of Blanco, in a press release from the White House:

"I’m honored that Richard Blanco will join me and Vice President Biden at our second Inaugural," President Obama said today. His contributions to the fields of poetry and the arts have already paved a path forward for future generations of writers. Richard’s writing will be wonderfully fitting for an Inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity.”

More info from the White House:

Born in Spain to Cuban exiles, Blanco’s parents emigrated to New York City days after his birth and eventually settled in Miami. Blanco began his career as a consultant engineer. Writing about abstract concepts and preparing arguments on behalf of his clients helped Blanco think about the "engineering” of language, and he left his job in 1999 for the creative writing faculty at Central Connecticut State University until 2001. Thereafter he served as instructor at various universities throughout the country, including American and Georgetown universities, all the while maintaining his career in consulting engineer.
 
Blanco's career as an English-language Latino poet gained momentum when his first collection, City of a Hundred Fires, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh. Blanco's second book of poetry, Directions to The Beach of the Dead, won the PEN American Center Beyond Margins Award.  His third collection, Looking for The Gulf Motel, was published in 2012.

Added Blanco: "I’m beside myself, bestowed with this great honor, brimming over with excitement, awe, and gratitude. In many ways, this is the very 'stuff' of the American Dream, which underlies so much of my work and my life’s story—America’s story, really.  I am thrilled by the thought of coming together during this great occasion to celebrate our country and its people through the power of poetry."

Watch Blanco give a reading in 2012 at NYC's Bryant Park, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Poet Adrienne Rich Dies at 82

Adrienne Rich, one of America's great poets, has died at the age of 82, the AP reports:

RichRich died Tuesday at her Santa Cruz home from complications from rheumatoid arthritis, said her son, Pablo Conrad. She had lived in Santa Cruz since the 1980s.

Through her writing, Rich explored topics such as women’s rights, racism, sexuality, economic justice and love between women.

Rich published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and five collections of nonfiction. She won a National Book Award for her collection of poems “Diving into the Wreck” in 1974. In 2004, she won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for her collection “The School Among the Ruins."

Rich came out of the closet after leaving her husband and met her lifelong partner, the writer Michelle Cliff, in 1976.


Gay Football Player Poetry Slams Obama for Not Supporting Marriage Equality: VIDEO

Goddard

When Outsports met Adam Goddard he was a bisexual football player struggling to find a place in the LGBT community. Goddard now identifies as gay and is using his other talent with words to speak out against social injustice — in this case Obama's unwillingness to support marriage equality.

Goddard gave this impressive performance at the NOH8 campaign's third anniversary party last week at the House of Blues in L.A.

Goddard's poetry slam, entitled 'Yes We Can But No We Haven't', AFTER THE JUMP...

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Carol Ann Duffy Named UK's 1st Female and Openly Gay Poet Laureate

Duffy

In 400 years, the UK had never named a female or openly gay poet laureate, until today. Carol Ann Duffy is the first. According to The Telegraph, former PM Tony Blair had considered her for the honor in 1999 but decided against it because he  "was unsure how the middle classes would react to a lesbian national poet."

The Guardian reports: "Speaking on Woman's Hour this morning on Radio 4, she revealed that she had thought "long and hard" about accepting the offer. 'The decision was purely because they hadn't had a woman,' she said. 'I look on it as recognition of the great women poets we now have writing, like Alice Oswald.' Duffy said she was ready to deal with the scrutiny which comes as part and parcel of the laureateship, suggesting that her experience of public appearances would stand her in good stead, but that she would vigorously defend her private life. 'I'm a very private person and I will continue to fiercely protect my privacy and my daughter,' she said. She declared herself ready to tackle the official verse which the laureateship requires, but only if the occasion inspired her. 'If not, then I'd ignore it,' she said."


Robert Pattinson and Javier Beltran: Longing in Little Ashes

Littleashes2

Twilight's Robert Pattinson makes quite an entrance in the follow-up to the vampire movie, as Salvador Dali in Little Ashes, which details the intimate relationship between Dali and poet Federico Garcia Lorca.

Two new clips have been released that contain plenty of longing gazes between the two men, along with this additional poster (below) for the film, which adopts a bit of Dali's surrealism.

In one of the clips, it looks as though Pattinson's ready to take neck-biting to the next level.

Watch them, AFTER THE JUMP...

Previously
Gay Relationships and Fanging with Robert Pattinson [tr]

Littleashes
First Look: Robert Pattinson and Javier Beltran in Little Ashes [tr]

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Mark Doty wins National Book Award for Poetry

Poet Mark Doty has won the National Book Award for his collection Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems.

DotyIn an interview about his nomination, Doty said, "I feel completely thrilled—I’m in wonderful company, and it’s particularly satisfying to me because my nominated book is a ‘New and Selected’ poems, so it’s 20 years worth of work. To have that volume singled out feels like a kind of affirmation of what I’ve been busying myself with for the last two decades, so I’m delighted."

He also talked about his newer work: "In these new poems, I found myself turning over notions that have always been at the fore for romantic poets: the nature of beauty, the nature of the soul, how love exists in time. I’m always thinking about beauty as a subject—that contested, difficult, fascinating ground that’s so important to me. So I wrote a poem in which I proposed a little theory of beauty. It was about the unlikely circumstance of looking at a prison tattoo on a man’s shoulder and realizing that it was quite an awkward looking thing, but it became beautiful when someone explained what it represented—it was a sign language character. This is beauty that is emerging out of knowledge. But there was more to say about kinds of beauty."

The other 2008 award winners were Fiction: Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country (Modern Library), Nonfiction: Annette Gordon-Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (W.W. Norton & Company), Young People's Literature: Judy Blundell, What I Saw and How I Lied (Scholastic).

Doty is the author of many books of poetry as well as several prose works including Dog Years and the beautiful memoir Heaven's Coast.

Doty reading his poem "Charlie Howard's Descent" at the Split This Rock Poetry festival in Washington D.C., AFTER THE JUMP...

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