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In this brief and evocative memoir, Richard Blanco shares his life as a Latino immigrant and openly gay man discovering a new, emotional understanding of what it means to be an American. He tells the story of the call from the White House committee and all the exhilaration and upheaval of the days that followed. He reveals the inspiration and challenges behind the creation of the inaugural poem, “One Today,” as well as two other poems commissioned for the occasion (“Mother Country” and “What We Know of Country”), published here for the first time ever, alongside translations of all three poems into his native Spanish. Blanco also reflects on his spiritual embrace of Americans everywhere through the power of poetry and his vision for its new role in our nation’s consciousness. Like the inaugural poem itself, For All of Us, One Today speaks to what makes this country and its people great.
“In this charming and engrossing book, Richard Blanco traces his personal and literary development that led to his appointment as the inaugural poet. The high drama here is the backstage look into the pressure and process of writing the poem itself and the thrill of reading it to the world.” –Billy Collins
“In this moving, intimate memoir Richard Blanco reveals how a poet works–where the words he uses, the images he creates, come from. This is a book not just about one poet’s journey, but about the power of poetry to capture moments, to transform lives, and to illuminate truths.” –Anderson Cooper
“Blanco showed great courage…and it’s courage that is the most important of all virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.” –Dr. Maya Angeleou
“In a testament to the beauty of the American spirit, Richard Blanco recounts his inspiring journey–from the traditions of his childhood to the magic of an historic presidential inauguration. Through the lens of this one man’s amazing personal journey, we are transfixed by another uniquely American story.” –House Leader Nancy Pelosi
“Richard’s story is at once deeply personal and uniquely, universally American. The specifics of our lives may not be the same, but we all share a relationship with a country that is an ongoing work in progress, and as Richard elegantly reveals through his experiences, what we do defines that work for those who follow. America shapes the people within her, and in return we shape America. This is a portrait of a nation and its people, each working to make the other better.” –Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union
“This is the story of a poem. But it is our story too. The inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, shows us how ‘to love a country as if you’ve lost one.’ This is a wonderful, wise and incredibly personal book. There is something unique and deeply profound when someone like Richard, born in Cuba, writes about his love–our love–for America. Richard Blanco’s journey is America’s journey. This great book–a must read–allows us see this country in a completely new and exciting way.” –Jorge Ramo, anchor for Noticiero Univision and host of Al Punto
“Richard Blanco’s memoir is breathtaking; a new paradigm of the American dream. Blanco constructs a moving manifesto in support of human rights and humanity writ large. For All of Us, One Today is a societal call-to-action for the soul and spirit. I repeat: breathtaking.” –Timothy Gunn, Project Runway