FARMINGTON: Richard Blanco, scheduled to appear at the nationally renowned Sunken Garden Poetry Festival at Hill-Stead Museum this summer, has been selected as the 2013 inaugural poet for President Obama's swearing in ceremony on Sunday, January 20. The Cuban American poet was chosen by Mr. Obama “because the poet’s 'deeply personal poems are rooted in the idea of what it means to be an American,” according to Addie Whisenant, Inaugural committee spokeswoman. President Obama said in a statement, "It is an honor to have Richard Blanco in our second inauguration. His contributions to the fields of poetry and art have paved the way for future generations of writers. Richard's work is well-suited for an opening that will celebrate the strength and diversity of our great country."
Blanco read at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival once before in 2004 as winner of that year’s Sunken Garden Poetry Prize. His acclaimed first book of poetry, City of a Hundred Fires, explores the yearnings and negotiation of cultural identity as a Cuban- American and received the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. His second book, Directions to the Beach of the Dead, won the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center for its continued exploration of the universal themes of cultural identity and homecoming.
“We are delighted for Richard and for our audience,” said festival director Mimi Madden. “Last year Natasha Trethewey was announced as the new U.S. Poet Laureate just weeks before her festival reading, and now this honor for Richard Blanco gives poetry lovers in the area another wonderful opportunity.”
In addition to Blanco’s appearance July 24, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival’s 2013 season will feature other major American poets throughout the summer—Pulitzer Prize winners Tracy K. Smith and Philip Schultz, human rights advocate Carolyn Forche, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins. For details on the festival, visit sunkengardenpoetry.org or Hill-Stead’s main website at www.hillstead.org. Information is also available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 860.677.4787 ext 134.