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Like Whitman, Richard Blanco hears America singing

Former Miami poet Richard Blanco created special symbolism with his mere presence on the podium at President Obama’s inauguration last month.  Blanco, Cuban-American  and gay, will read the poem he delivered to the nation that day, “One Today,” along with other works, at a reading on Friday in the Knight Concert Hall at Miami’s Arsht Center.

The strength of "One Today" was its plainspoken universality, your ordinary, day-to-day life appreciated and exalted in lyrics crafted for the unique rhythm of a nation. Like Whitman, Blanco hears the mechanics, masons and mothers of America singing:

My face, your face, millions of faces in morning's mirrors,
each one yawning to life, crescendoing into our day:
pencil-yellow school buses, the rhythm of traffic lights,
fruit stands: apples, limes, and oranges arrayed like rainbows
begging our praise. Silver trucks heavy with oil or paper—
bricks or milk, teeming over highways alongside us,
on our way to clean tables, read ledgers, or save lives—
to teach geometry, or ring-up groceries as my mother did
for twenty years, so I could write this poem

Blanco's reading at 7:30 p.m. Friday, sponsored by Books and Books, is free, but first-come, first-served reservations  are required. You can reserve your seat here or by calling 305-949-6722.

The evening will include a bilingual reading of Blanco’s poems, including “One Today,” an onstage interview (by a special guest to be named) and an audience Q&A. Blanco also will sign books in the lobby afterward. In case you’ve forgotten, here is Blanco reading “One Today”:

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