New York, NY (August 19, 2015)—The Academy of American Poets, the nation’s largest member-supported charitable organization championing poets and poetry, has named Richard Blanco its first Education Ambassador. Mr. Blanco was the fifth presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history and was recently honored at the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana where he recited an original poem he wrote for the occasion.
An honorary position, the Education Ambassador recognizes an esteemed poet’s dedication to poetry being taught in the schools and to inspiring teachers. In this role Blanco will work with the Academy of American Poets to champion the organization and its programs and resources to the educational community. He will also participate in meetings with teachers and education leaders, contribute to Poets.org, and advise on ways to further develop the organization’s education initiatives.
“I am excited and honored to be working with the Academy of American Poets, which has been the leading advocate for poetry in the classrooms for more than fifty years. I believe that’s the key to sustaining and increasing the vitality of poetry in America," said Richard Blanco.
Richard Blanco is the youngest and the first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve as a presidential inaugural poet. Born in Madrid to Cuban-exiled parents and raised in Miami, Blanco’s body of work negotiates cultural identity and place. He is the author of the memoirs The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey and the poetry collections Looking for the Gulf Motel, Directions to the Beach of the Dead and City of a Hundred Fires. A children’s book version of his inaugural poem, "One Today," illustrated by Dav Pilkey will be released this fall.
Blanco’s many awards include the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press, the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center, the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Thom Gunn Award, and a Lambda Literary Award. A builder of cities as well as poems, Blanco holds a BS in Civil Engineering and an MFA in creative writing. He has received numerous honors for his writings and performances, including honorary doctorates from Macalester College, Colby College, and the University of Rhode Island, and he has been named a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. He has taught at Central Connecticut State University, Georgetown University, and American University. Blanco shares his time between Bethel, Maine and Boston, Massachusetts.
The Academy of American Poets, founded in 1934, produces Poets.org, National Poetry Month, the popular Poem-a-Day series, American Poets magazine, resources for K-12 educators, an annual series of poetry readings and special events, and awards the American Poets Prizes.