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Richard Blanco in Conversation at Poets.org

By Harriet Staff


In anticipation of President Obama’s Inauguration on January 21, the Academy of American Poets staff spoke with Richard Blanco about writing an inaugural poem, using art to mark significant occasions and the relationship between identity and poetry. In the interview, Blanco talks about returning to previous inaugural poems for inspiration, especially Maya Angelou’s. But he also is seeking inspiration from less-known poets as well:

But I also went back to a poem by a friend and colleague of mine, Nikki Moustaki, that has always stayed in my memory: “How To Write A Poem After September 11th,” which was published in the New York Times on its own page (and included in the anthology Poetry After 9/11: An Anthology of New York Poets, Melville House, 2002). It was also, in some sense, an occasional poem, and very inspiring to me.

For Blanco, “poetry is the place we go to when we don’t have any more words,” which makes it uniquely able to address complex events and situations that are not immediately explainable. Writing is both “a discovery process” and potentially a way of grappling with, as he puts it, “all the din of the day—all that we hear in the news.”

The full interview and several of Richard Blanco’s poems are available on Poets.org.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, January 21st, 2013 by Harriet Staff.