Friday, August 14, 2015

Matters of the Sea by Richard Blanco

As Richard Blanco read his lovely new poem Matters of the Sea  Friday morning for the reopening of the US Embassy in Havana (go to the 5 minute mark in the video above), I raptly listened on NPR while driving my little Fiat on I-95 on my way to work. As he spoke, I instantly visualized and recognized his descriptions.

Among them: "our grandmothers counting years while dusting photos of their wedding days", "our fathers worn by the weight of clouds clocking in at factories,'' "our lips anointed by the same spray of salt-laden wind,'' "we’ve all cupped seashells to our ears listen again to the echo," "to gaze into the lucid blues of our shared horizon to breathe together to heal together."

His delivery was Zen-like, comforting and soothing like the sea that stood still behind him along El Malecon.

This is a long way of saying that I'm very proud of my literary Cuban Miami brother. In honor of the ceremony, I am reposting this entry below from when I interviewed Richard for his memoirish book The Prince of Los Cocuyos which was published last fall.

"A Cuban 'Wonder Years' or like a 'Running with Mangoes,'' a la Augusten Burroughs. That's how Richard Blanco describes his new memoir The Prince of Los Cocuyos that he just published.

It's the latest from the gay, Cuban-American, Miami-raised writer who presented his "One Today'' poem for President Obama's inauguration in Jan. 2013.

The new book chronicles his coming of age (and coming out) while living in Miami's Westchester neighborhood in the 1970s and 80s. (Cocuyos means fireflies in Spanish, in case you were wondering.)

I interviewed Richard for my paper the Sun Sentinel. Here's my story on his book, why he chose to write in more long form than his traditional poetry such as Looking for the Gulf Motel collection and how he hopes his stories may help gay youth know that they're not alone in their struggles. The book is warm and sweet like a Cuban cafecito.

Richard Blanco (and that's me smiling over his shoulder) at his book reading in Coral Gables for The Prince of Los Cocuyos

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