Monday, February 13, 2012

Spotlight on Richard Blanco

Richard Blanco is the author of two previous poetry collections: Directions to The Beach of the Dead, winner of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award; and City of a Hundred Fires, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Exploring themes of Latino identity and place, his poems have appeared in Best American Poetry 2000 and Best American Prose Poems and have been featured on NPR. Blanco is a fellow of the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, recipient of two Florida Artist Fellowships, and has taught at Georgetown and American universities. Blanco is also a professional civil engineer.

Blanco’s newest book is the poetry collection, Looking for The Gulf Motel (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012). Rigoberto González calls these poems “bittersweet songs that ache with the ‘sweet and slow honey of a bolero.’” Jim Elledge says: “Blanco is at the height of his creative prowess and one of the best of the best poets writing today.” “There is nothing here you will not remember,” offers Spencer Reece.

From the publisher: “Family continues to be a wellspring of inspiration and learning for Blanco. His third book of poetry, Looking for The Gulf Motel, is a genealogy of the heart, exploring how his family’s emotion legacy has shaped—and continues shaping—his perspectives. The collection is presented in three movements, each one chronicling his understanding of a particular facet of life from childhood into adulthood. As a child born into the milieu of his Cuban exiled familia, the first movement delves into early questions of cultural identity and their evolution into his unrelenting sense of displacement and quest for the elusive meaning of home. The second, begins with poems peering back into family again, examining the blurred lines of gender, the frailty of his father-son relationship, and the intersection of his cultural and sexual identities as a Cuban-American gay man living in rural Maine. In the last movement, poems focused on his mother’s life shaped by exile, his father’s death, and the passing of a generation of relatives, all provide lessons about his own impermanence in the world and the permanence of loss. Looking for The Gulf Motel is looking for the beauty of that which we cannot hold onto, be it country, family, or love.”

◙ I just wanted to say that I had a wonderful time reading from my novel, The Book of Want (University of Arizona Press), at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center on Thursday. Many thanks to the CSRC and particularly to Lizette Guerra and Rebecca Epstein for all of their work to set up and promote the reading. It was also very special to have our son, Ben, in attendance…he is currently a junior at UCLA. Ben gave a lovely introduction which was quite moving. He also took a few pictures, one of which I post here. The CSRC is a wonderful resource that is there for you! Check out its website to see all that the CSRC has to offer.

4 comments:

Estella said...

I'm sorry I missed the reading. Sounds like a wonderful venue!

John Hastings said...

any artist, any poet is always displaced, always at right angles with the world, anguished even. all this overwritten prose drowns the poets voice in an ocean of cliche', this poor guy doesn't have a chance with all you vampires chewing at his flesh.

Daniel Olivas said...

John, I'm not certain what you mean; your statement is not clear. You say: "all this overwritten prose drowns the poets voice in an ocean of cliche', this poor guy doesn't have a chance with all you vampires chewing at his flesh." What overwritten prose? The bio note? That's borrowed from press materials. The praise for his book? Those are shortened versions of blurbs from the book's back cover. The description of the book? Well, as I clearly note, that's from the publisher (in fact, I put that in quotes so it is clear it is from the publisher). So, all that being said, are we vampires for promoting Blanco's new book? Or would you rather we ignore our poets?

John Hastings said...

the poetry is lost in the white noise aporia of all the ad-copy. in quotes or out of quotes there is something felonious about promoting poetry like it is a commodity from KMart...