Blanco turns his deeply spiritual X-ray vision to civics and creativity, and reveals how they merge and converge in patterns of the heart, the discovery of which can change everything. I wish I could gift this honest book to every child in America. — Barnet Bain, Producer, What Dreams May Come and Co-host of Cutting Edge Consciousness
Richard Blanco brings it all together in this jewel of a book—the memories of his Cuban family, his search for a new home in the United States, an intimate look behind the scenes at the making of an inaugural poem, and the reasons why poetry should matter, more than ever, to all of us. President Obama made a very wise decision in choosing him to be the inaugural poet. Written with honesty, grace, and humility, For All of Us, One Today is a lasting contribution to our history as a people–Ruth Behar, author of Traveling Heavy: A Memoir in between Journeys.
The process of writing and then delivering one of the most important occasional poems in our history led Blanco to a new understanding of himself and our country, and gave him hope for poetry in America. May poets, teachers, and readers heed Blanco’s call for more poetry in our nation’s classrooms and for poetry’s greater presence on the American cultural landscape. — Jennifer Benka, Executive Director, American Academy of Poets
Richard’s voice reaches the heart of the American experience in all its beautiful diversity. It crosses oceans of differences among us and shows us what binds us together and what drives us apart. As the president of a host of charter high schools that serve mostly minority and disenfranchised marginalized students, Blanco’s words are required reading. — Frank Biden, Brother of Vice President Joe Biden, President of Maverick Schools
Blanco’s journey to the Inaugural platform is only the most recent leg in a lifelong quest by a sensitive and heroic immigrant to reach a deeper understanding of what it means to be an American. Throughout Blanco’s quest for national identity, he is confident that poetry serves as his own best guide, just as he hopes all Americans will rediscover the poetic imagination for its singular ability to elucidate America’s soul. — Roger W. Bowen, Director, Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows
From Miami to Maine to Washington, DC, Blanco offers a compelling new voice for the American Dream. At President Obama’s inauguration he spoke to the nation with a simple elegance that touched our hearts and souls. I believe the universal message embodied in For All of Us, One Today will become firmly etched in the country’s DNA. — Michael F Brennan, Mayor of Portland, Maine
“In this charming and engrossing book Richard Blanco trances his personal and literary development that led to his appointment as the inaugural poet. The high drama here is the backstage look into the pressure and process of writing the poem itself and the thrill of reading it to the world.” — Billy Collins, Author and Poet, Former US Poet Laureate.
With an engineer’s eye for design and a poet’s ear for truth, Blanco tells the fascinating story of one poem’s journey from a kitchen table in a small-town Maine to the grand stage of a president’s inauguration. Blanco’s memoir is a powerful reminder that we all pursue our diverse dreams and aspirations under one sky, sharing “One Today. — Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine)
“In this moving, intimate memoir Richard Blanco reveals how a poet works – where the words he uses, the images he creates, come from. This is a book not just about one poet’s journey, but about the power of poetry to capture moments, to transform lives, and to illuminate truths.” — Anderson Cooper, Journalist, Author, Television Personality
For over five decades I have had a burning love-hate relationship with My America as My America never fulfilled my dreams of its potential. Blanco’s genius gift of words stirs the emotion and passion most of us feel towards this land of ours – ours by birth, or choice, or chance, or opportunity – a land filled of promise – which calls on us to make it so. — Lorraine Cortes-Vazquez, Executive Vice President AARP
“Like the inaugural poem he wrote for our country, Richard Blanco’s moving story speaks to the amazing American spirit in all of us who keep dreaming, persevering, exploring, and creating.”- Gloria Estefan, American singer, songwriter, actress and entrepreneur
Blanco’s memoir is breathtaking; a new paradigm of the American dream. Blanco constructs a moving manifesto in support of human rights and humanity writ large. For All of Us, One Today is a societal call-to-action for the soul and spirit. I repeat: breathtaking. — Timothy Gunn, Television Personality and Author
Richard’s voice truly is one voice. Reading his succulent and resonant words, the soft lilt of his warm Latin accent eventually melts into one’s own voice. Blanco’s ubiquitous perspective and precise words pull at the memories, joys, traumas, triumphs, secrets and successes we all share as human beings, no matter who we are. — Aranka Matolcsy, Executive Director, Mahoosuc Arts Council
Richard takes us into his realm of authenticity with his use of imagery and language. This book recounts an immigrant family’s struggles and their resilience, a young man’s search for self and country, a glimpse at Cuban culture, and the power of the poem; all bits of a treasure. — Marilyn Moss-Rockefeller, Author, Former President and CEO Moss, Inc.
“In a testament to the beauty of the American spirit, Richard Blanco recounts his inspiring journey – from the traditions of his childhood to the magic of an historic presidential inauguration. Through the lens of this one man’s amazing personal journey, we are transfixed by another uniquely American story.” — Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
With grace and humility, Blanco tells a captivating story about being chosen to become the poet at President Obama’s inauguration. It’s an honor that changed his life and made all of us in Maine intensely proud. The beauty and eloquence of Richard’s poems together with his inspiring story make this a very special book. — Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine)
“This is the story of a poem. But it is our story too. The inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, shows us how ‘to love a country as if you’ve lost one.’ This is a wonderful, wise and incredibly personal book. There is something unique and deeply profound when someone like Richard, born in Cuba, writes about his love –our love- for America. Richard Blanco’s journey is America’s journey. This great book – a must read- allows us see this country in a completely new and exciting way.” — Jorge Ramos, Journalist, Author, Television Personality
By all means, join Blanco on his journey from a sentimental view of America to one of clear-eyed, reality-tested, hope. Learn from his insight about what knits us together as Americans and as humans. Who better than a civil engineer and a poet to envision the foundation for a community characterized by dignity, beauty and opportunity? — Tim Ritchie, President of Tech Museum of Innovation
Blanco brings us with him into the heady experience of becoming the Inaugural Poet. It is not only a riveting memoir, but an insightful and honest musing on the creative process and expression. Through his intimate writing we glimpse the power of our own personal story and how it can connect us to something bigger than we are. One can’t help but agree with him that poetry, especially contemporary poetry, is relevant and vital right now. — Liv Rockefeller, Two Ponds Press
Richard’s story is at once deeply personal and uniquely, universally American. The specifics of our lives may not be the same, but we all share a relationship with a country that is an ongoing work in progress, and as Richard elegantly reveals through his experiences, what we do defines that work for those who follow. America shapes the people within her, and in return we shape America. This is a portrait of a nation and its people, each working to make the other better. — Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union
Oh, the Majesty of the ordinary, the mystical grandeur of the Quotidian, that Blanco conjures up for us. The sublime force with which the poet births, writes and narrates his poem and his attendant experiences on Inaugural Day. For within his synthesis of paradoxes, the gay man orating to the straight and gay masses, the Cuban immigrant becoming the quintessential American, I see my own immigrant parents from Israel, and I see my own journey as an openly gay man. — Howard Rosenman, Motion Picture Executive and Actor
Every American should read this book; it invokes a sense of humility and love of country that we often take for granted. As someone who lives in Newtown, Connecticut, I was particularly moved by Blanco’s compassion for our grieving community. His story reminds us that our noblest calling is, quite simply, our devotion to one another. — Lisa Schwartz, Poetry Editor, Newtowner Magazine
In accepting the responsibility, the honor, the title of inaugural poet, Blanco examines his history, identity and experiences. A journey of self-discovery leads to a collective realization. Our unique perspectives make America. As one sun rises over each and every one of us, we all continue the journeys our ancestors started. – Anastasia Tonello, Esq., Executive Committee Secretary, American Immigration Lawyers Association.
“I was deeply moved by Richard Blanco’s reading of his inaugural poem–a timely and elegant tribute to the great diversity of American experience. And now comes this fine meditation on his experience of coming to poetry, of making the poem and the months surrounding its making–a testament to the strength and significance of poetry in American culture, something not always seen or easily measured. Today Is For All of Us, One Today is a necessary intervention into the ongoing conversation about the role of poetry in public life.” — Natasha Trethewey, US Poet Laureate
“Every story begins inside a story that’s already begun by others,” Blanco tells us, and in this lovely, layered memoir he brings us into his story and makes it ours. We are there with Richard as his family comes to America, as his partner Mark prepares him to voice his images and words, and as his Inaugural poem celebrates the collective us that make the country. Blanco writes of America, family, and, through all, love, and it is the beautiful story of all of us that day and every today. Evan Wolfson, Founder & President Freedom to Marry
“Blanco’s book is truly for all of us. His heartwarming memoir — complete with humility, awe, joy, and hope — allows readers an intimate peek into his world to share one man’s realization of his American Dream. The three poems Blanco wrote for consideration by the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee are accessible to even the most lay readers of poetry. This is a book to read and re-read, and to share with family and friends. A lovely gift, it both aspires and affirms.” —Dawn Rennert, The Concord Bookshop, Concord, MA (Review from Indie Next List)