National Treasure: Richard Blanco

20150420_204039Last night I heard poetry for the first time. I have listened to poetry before and I’ve enjoyed it. I have favorite poems. But last night, listening to Richard Blanco read and speak, I heard poetry that infiltrated past my ears to settle somewhere between them and resonate where my soul resides.

His experiences are not my experiences. My white bread, 80s punk rock adolescence is as far from his rich, Cuban coming-of-age as vanilla ice cream from espresso gelato… but listening to his deep, clear voice talk about his growing up is the same as listening to my own story in a different flavor.

That’s why Blanco was chosen to read at a presidential inauguration, a privilege very few poets have enjoyed. He takes 20150420_190025his individual experience, gilds it in gold and shows it to us. As we look, we realize we are seeing our ordinary selves as we really are – extraordinary and uniquely similar. Blanco allows us to realize that it’s our blemishes, faults and imperfections that make us the lovely, awkward beings we are.

He stands in the company of Angelou and Frost, and I am thrilled to have had a few moments to stand in his company and be charmed by the warmth and honest cleverness that is Richard Blanco.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is an American poet, publisher and author. Her first collection of poetry, In Favor of Pain, was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award. Her latest novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® Finalist. Currently, she publishes Space and Time magazine, a 53 year old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction. For more information visit or
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  1. Pingback: Lucky Poems for Friday the 13th |

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