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January 09, 2013

Inauguration will feature first Hispanic poet to read at swearing-in

Richard Blanco will serve as the official poet at President Obama's swearing-in ceremony Jan. 21.

Yes, there really is an inaugural poet.  

Blanco, 44, will be the youngest ever inaugural poet and the first Hispanic or gay person to recite a poem at the swearing-in ceremony, according to the Presidential Inaugural Committee. 

“I’m honored that Richard Blanco will join me and Vice President Biden at our second Inaugural,” Obama said. “His contributions to the fields of poetry and the arts have already paved a path forward for future generations of writers. Richard’s writing will be wonderfully fitting for an Inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation’s great diversity.”

The first inaugural poet was Robert Frost at President John Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration. In 1993, at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, Maya Angelou became the second inaugural poet and the first to read an original poem at an inauguration. She was followed by Miller Williams in 1997 and Elizabeth Alexander in 2009.

"I’m beside myself, bestowed with this great honor, brimming over with excitement, awe, and gratitude,” Blanco said today. “In many ways, this is the very ‘stuff’ of the American Dream, which underlies so much of my work and my life’s story—America’s story, really.  I am thrilled by the thought of coming together during this great occasion to celebrate our country and its people through the power of poetry.”

Obama was involved in the selection of participants in the Inaugural program, including Blanco.


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