Richard Blanco is the Education Ambassador of the Academy of American Poets. In his role, he helps champion the organization’s free resources for teachers, student projects, and other education initiatives.
Born on February 15, 1968, in Madrid, Blanco grew up in Miami, where he received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering as well as an MFA in creative writing from Florida International University.
Blanco is the author of the poetry collections Homeland of My Body: New and Selected Poems (Beacon Press, 2023); How to Love a Country (Beacon Press, 2019); Directions to the Beach of the Dead (University of Arizona Press, 2005), winner of the 2006 PEN/American Center Beyond Margins Award; and City of a Hundred Fires (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998), winner of the 1997 Agnes Lynch Starrett National Poetry Prize, among others. He is also the author of a memoir, The Prince of los Cocuyos (Ecco Press, 2014), a Lambda Literary Award–winning account of his childhood and adolescence coming to terms with his sexual, national, and cultural identities, and For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey (Beacon Press, 2013). His inaugural poem, One Today, was also published as a children’s book illustrated by Dav Pilkey (Little, Brown, 2015).
Sandra Cisneros describes Blanco’s poems as “sad, tender, and filled with longing. Like an old photograph, a saint’s statue worn away by the devout, a bolero on the radio on a night full of rain. Me emocionan. There is no other way to say it. They emotion me.”
Blanco is the recipient of two Florida Artist Fellowships, a Residency Fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the John Ciardi Fellowship from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. In March 2023, Blanco was honored with the 2021 National Humanities Medal for “powerful storytelling [that] challenges the boundaries of culture, gender, and class while celebrating the promise of our Nation’s highest ideals”
Blanco has taught at various schools, including American University, Georgetown University, and Wesleyan University, and has been an artist in residence at Colby College’s Lunder Institute for American Art. He is currently a distinguished visiting professor at Florida International University.
In 2013, Blanco was selected to read at Barack Obama’s second presidential inauguration. He lives in Bethel, Maine.