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Last week, I had the enormous pleasure of hearing Richard Blanco, the young man who read his amazing poem "One Today" at President Obama's inauguration. The Mountain View Theater in Ashland, Oregon was packed.

He introduced himself as someone who was made in Cuba, assembled in Spain, and imported to the United States--meaning his mother, seven months pregnant, and the rest of the family arrived as exiles from Cuba to Madrid where he was born. Forty-five days later, the family emigrated to New York City, then eventually to Miami where he was raised and educated.  

His poems are profound, often funny and very assessable. He laughs at himself, writes poems about his Cuban grandmother who had trouble accepting her gay grandson whom it was clear she loved. "I'd rather have a granddaughter who's a whore than a grandson who's a faggot like you." He made the audience laugh and he made us tear up.

But most exciting to me was the way he is bringing poetry into the lives of the common folk--just ordinary working people who may have believed poetry something only weird people or intellectuals appreciated.  Blanco read before 850,000 people at the Inauguration,  and millions more heard him on television. He read again at Fenway Park for a fund raiser for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. And, according to Blanco, no one raced out of the park or put their fingers in their ears. Poetry is meant to be heard. It says things that are impossible to say any other way.  And Blanco is paving the way for other poets to be heard. I am one of those other poets and for all my life, I have longed to be heard--really heard. 

His reading gave this poet hope and the realization that it is a great time to be a poet. And when he finished reading, the audience stood and gave him the standing ovation he deserved. WOW. The applause was so loud, you would have thought him a rock star, a stand up comedian, or a senator about to run for President. 

I recently learned that I'd been nominated for Oregon's Poet Laureate. I don't expect to win, as there are more qualified poets who have dedicated their lives to teaching and writing poetry, but I am deeply honored to have been recommended.  My first collection of poems will come out this spring with an accompanying CD.  

Yes, it is a great year for poetry.  I hope you'll read some (maybe even mine) and find the magic for yourself. 



Joan Zumwalt
03/11/2014 3:05pm

Sitting by you at the workshop on Sunday, I had no idea what an accomplished writer I had the pleasure to meet.Your blogs are a treasure. I read all the poems you have posted here and wish you luck in becoming the next Oregon Poet Laureate.

03/11/2014 3:17pm

Thanks for your encouragement, Joan. I enjoyed talking with you at the workshop, as well. And I hope our paths cross again.

03/17/2014 8:43am

Another great post, Susan. You are my Richard Blanco. Hearing your poetry brings back my childhood desire to write poems. The beauty of your words gives me the idea that poetry is worth reading, and writing. I'm still on my prose, but I feel a poem gestating.

11/12/2015 3:25am

Its a great time to become a poet means that all the people who wants to become poet should work hard with their teachers. The people of the country should have good teachers in their life.

05/20/2016 3:18am

I really wanted to be a poet in my younger days. I contributed some of my poems in the past. But I was asked to take up Business Administration to help the family business. Still, my love for poetry remains. From time to time, I attend poetry readings and continue to craft my own poems on different topics that interest me.

03/18/2016 3:41am

Art prints are reproductions of an original work created using a printmaking strategy. Among the most widely recognized types of prints are those created using a photo mechanical procedure, by which an image is photographically exchanged from a unique source and mass replicated.

03/21/2016 8:35am

You will always be “a winner with your readers” and from the partial transcript of the 2009 inaugural poem, “Praise Song for the Day,” written and recited by Elizabeth Alexander at President Obama’s first presidential inauguration, let it be proclaimed:

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

08/03/2016 2:18am

I wish I were so talented as you. I like this post so much!

12/23/2016 3:20am

Well, it's not easy to be a poet at all. I am not good at poetry, unfortunately.


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