Department of English Professor, Richard Blanco – the first Latino and openly-gay presidential inaugural poet – spoke about his book, The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood, at a lecture put together by Trinity University.
The Prince of Los Cocuyos is a vivid account of Blanco’s coming of age as the child of Cuban immigrants and his effort to contend with his burgeoning artistic and sexual identities. The book evokes the complexities and glories—and humor—of navigating his two imaginary worlds: the Cuba of the 1950s that his family longed for, and his own idealized America.
Born in Madrid to Cuban exiled parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize Blanco’s body of work. In addition to his memoir, he is the author of a series of poetry chapbooks and collections. Blanco also has written a children’s book of his inaugural poem, “One Today,” illustrated by Dav Pilkey; and Boundaries, a collaboration with photographer Jacob Hessler. With Ruth Behar, he is co-creator of the blog Bridges to/from Cuba: Lifting the Emotional Embargo, which provides a cultural and artistic platform for sharing the real lives and complex emotional histories of thousands of Cubans across the globe.
Blanco is the prize-winning author of three volumes of poetry, two memoirs, and several poetry chapbooks. Some of his honors include the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press, the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center, and the Paterson Poetry Prize. The Academy of American Poets named him its first Education Ambassador in 2015. He has been a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow continues to write poems for organizations and events such as the re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana.
Watch the lecture here.