Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Richard Blanco to Offer Workshop, Lecture and Even a Poem Written for Sun Valley
Thursday, June 11, 2020


Award-winning poet Richard Blanco, who read the poem “One Today” at President Obama’s inauguration, will be the headliner at the Community Library’s fourth Annual Hemingway Distinguished Lecture.

Blanco will speak at the library at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 16, in a presentation that will be offered in-person if health standards permit. The number of in-person seats available will be determined closer to the event based on state guidelines. The presentation will also be livestreamed.

In addition, Blanco will lead an outdoors workshop for local students age 13 and older and educators on July 12 and 13. The workshop, which will run two hours each day, is free but registration is required.

Blanco will lead a conversation and exercises the first day; participants will workshop their original poems the second. They will have the opportunity to share their poetry alongside Blanco at the library.

Blanco, who will spend three weeks in residency at the Mary and Ernest Hemingway House Writer-in-Residence apartment, will also write an original poem for the community that will be shared at the public lecture on July 16.

“In a world where each day we may be overwhelmed by unknowns, here at the library we have found great solace in Richard’s poetry—a body of work that explores place and belonging, complexity and contradiction, and injustice and ideals,” said Martha Williams, the programs and education manager at The Community Library. “Even in addressing the darkest subjects, his poems inspire hope for our future and invite conversations about identity, race, sexuality and culture. I can’t imagine a more important message right now for our students, educators and the entire community.”

Blanco, who started out a civil engineer, is the fifth presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history. He’s also the youngest, first Latino, immigrant and gay person to serve in such a role.

Born in Madrid to Cuban exile parents and raised in Miami, his work asks such questions as: Where am I from? Where do I belong? And who am I in this world?

His poetry collections include “Looking for the Gulf Motel,” which focused on his navigation through his cultural, sexual and artistic identities; “Directions to the Beach of the Dead,” based on his explorations of the ideal of home and connection, and “City of a Hundred Fires,” which explored his cultural yearnings and contradictions as a Cuban-American.”

His latest book of poems, “How to Love a Country,” interrogates past and present American narrative and celebrates the still-unkept promise of its ideals.

Blanco, who lives in Bethel, Maine, also has authored a couple memoirs, including “The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood.” It is a poignant and hilarious story of his coming-of-age as the child of Cuban immigrants.”

Williams said the workshop is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from and engage with one of America’s most influential contemporary poets.

“We also hope that the lecture and workshop underscore the significance of diverse voices in literature. The library is committed to supporting these diverse voices—the perspectives they bring, the notions they may challenge and the realities they encourage us to confront—and bringing them to the wood River Valley,” she added.

The Hemingway Distinguished Lecture is presented each July by The Community Library, honoring the month of Ernest Hemingway’s birth and death. Previous lectures have been presented by Terry Tempest Williams, Anthony Doerr and Sherman Alexie.


Educators and students, including recent graduates may register for the free workshop by emailing Martha Williams at Include your name, school, grade or specialty and a short paragraph stating your interest in poetry or writing.

Registration for the lecture is at


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