From the NYT’s Poet’s Kinship With the President:
From the moment Barack Obama burst onto the political scene, the poet Richard Blanco, a son of Cuban exiles, says he felt “a spiritual connection” with the man who would become the nation’s 44th president.
Like Mr. Obama, who chronicled his multicultural upbringing in a best-selling autobiography, “Dreams From My Father,” Mr. Blanco has been on a quest for personal identity through the written word. He said his affinity for Mr. Obama springs from his own feeling of straddling different worlds; he is Latino and gay (and worked as a civil engineer while pursuing poetry). His poems are laden with longing for the sights and smells of the land his parents left behind.
Here’s what Blanco has to say on his website about “Looking for The Gulf Motel”, the title poem from his latest book:
A few years ago I went to Marco Island wanting to revisit my childhood memoires of vacationing there. But after decades of development, I hardly recognized the place. It was as if “my” Marco Island–and part of me–had disappeared. I found myself filled with the same kind of longing and nostalgia that my parents had for their lost Cuba. Dismayed I wrote this poem in response, which eventually became the inspiration for the entire collection by the same name. The encounter made me realize, once again, the endless wellspring that family is for me.
Click here to read the full poem and/or give it a listen:
And here are the opening lines of “Maybe”:
Maybe it was the billboards promising
paradise, maybe those fifty-nine miles
with your hand in mine, maybe my sexy
roadster, the top down, maybe the wind
fingering your hair, sun on your thighs
and bare chest, maybe it was just the ride
over the sea split in two by the highway
to Key Largo, or the idea of Key Largo.
The whole poem is well worth a read and listen: