So says Blanco on the homepage of his author's website, and this down-to-earth attitude is just one reason why I'm glad President Obama chose him to be this year's inaugural poet.
Reading this seed of information made Blanco relatable to me in a way that I would not have noticed before. I suddenly saw him as a person who can be and is excited by the completion of an artistic project, a person who might say, as my toddler does after independently removing his sweater, "I did it!"
I, too, perform a little jig whenever I finish a blog post--like "I'm a Whore. I'm a Prude."--or a poem--like "The Song of These Streets"--that I feel particularly good about. However, mine isn't so much "Michael Jackson-inspired" as Blanco's is; I do more of a hop up and down like a bunny and pump my fists up and down kind of dance. But that's besides the point.
For me, Blanco is an inspiration.
I don't ever want to give up on that dream, but I have often felt that it is impossible for a young Puerto Rican to achieve that honor.
So I understand just why, in a PBS interview with Jeffrey Brown, Blanco said, "…When I think about my background and being a little Cuban kid from Miami and all of a sudden being asked to sort of speak before the nation, for the nation, to the nation. I mean, it's just amazing…."
As a poet and former civil engineer, an openly gay man and a Latino, Blanco, himself, represents the beautiful diversity of America. I have never been a staunch believer in the American dream--I don't believe, as many do, that everyone can make it to the top in a capitalist society such as ours.
Perhaps, one day I can also fulfill my dream of sharing my words nationwide.
A writer's job is to connect with people and to move them, and Richard Blanco did just that with his inaugural narrative.
By including everyday objects that all Americans can relate to--"pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights, [and] fruit stands"--alongside his declaration that "All of us [are] as vital as the one light we move through," the "one sun [that] rose on us today," Blanco succeeds in conveying a message of unity that not only I, but the nation, could appreciate.
America is nowhere near perfect, but there is still hope for improvement, for unity, for understanding.
We can work to find a way for everyone to feel as if they belong in America, as if they fit in no matter their race, ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.
That, at least, is the ideal I hope we would strive towards.
As Blanco wrote, America is "a country still trying to negotiate its own identity, caught between the paradise of its founding ideals and the realities of its history, trying to figure it out, trying to "become" even today -- the word "hope" as fresh on our tongues as it ever was" (CNN Opinion.)
Check out the video and transcript of Richard Blanco's inaugural poem "One Today" below.
From Latinos Post
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 2
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 3
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
Richard Blanco is the author of three volumes of poetry collections: "City of a Hundred Fires," "Directions to the Beach of the Dead," "Place of Mind," and "Looking for the Gulf Motel."
You can follow him on Twitter at @rblancopoet.