Inaugural poet Blanco: I felt that Obama and Biden had my back


He’s been called “historic” and had Andrew Sullivan compare him to Walt Whitman, and yet, for most Americans, Richard Blanco has only been part of the national conversation for less than 24 hours.

Blanco, 44, delivered the inaugural poem Monday, and as the Daily Beast’s David Freedlander points out, he’s an inaugural first for many reasons:

“Born in Spain to Cuban parents who fled the Castro regime, with his recitation today Blanco became the first Hispanic, the first openly gay man, and the first immigrant to recite an inaugural poem.”

Blanco is also the youngest inaugural poet.

Blanco stopped by Morning Joe on Tuesday to reflect on the day and on his poem “One Today,” which he says he initially recited outdoors to an audience of a solitary snow man made by his nephews.

Mika Brzezinski asked him what was going through his mind as he walked to the podium on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol.

“It’s not my first poetry reading, obviously…but it’s kind of a big one,” Blanco said. “When I get up off that chair, I say to myself ‘Here we go!’ And it’s like on in terms of the artistic persona takes over, or I should say the artistic spirit takes over…I was there; I try to be as present as possible.”

Blanco joins a very short list as the tradition of having inaugural poets began only in 1961 with Robert Frost, who wrote for John F. Kennedy. Other poets include Maya Angelou, William Miller, and Elizabeth Alexander.

Blanco mentioned his nerves Monday soothed somewhat when both President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden shook his hand and offered encouraging words while walking to the podium.

And how did the snow man in his yard feel about the poem?

“He loved it,” Blanco said.

Inaugural poet Blanco: I felt that Obama and Biden had my back