Inaugural poet Richard Blanco to get the Key to the City of Portland

Tickets for Richard Blanco’s poetry reading tomorrow night were snatched up shortly after the Merrill Auditorium date was announced last month. Blanco, in case you’re been living in a box, was chosen as the Inaugural Poet for President Barack Obama’s Jan. 21 ceremony, becoming the first Hispanic and the first openly gay individual to do so.

U.S. President Barack Obama, right, greets poet Richard Blanco after his reading at the presidential inauguration on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington Jan. 21, 2013. (REUTERS/Win McNamee/Pool)

His upbringing as a Cuban exile in New York and Miami, and his mother’s hard work making ends meet, were sources of inspiration for his inaugural poem “One Today.” He was profiled in a New York Times feature leading into the high visibility poetry reading, further highlighting Blanco’s background, cultural influences and — significantly for locals — his current home of Bethel.

Now, Mainers can’t get enough of the poet who was instantly skyrocketed into rock star status.

The latest news concerning Blanco is that Portland Mayor Michael Brennan plans to present him with the ceremonial Key to the City in a 5:30 p.m. event at City Hall prior to his Merrill Auditorium reading.

In being named Inaugural Poet, Blanco joined transcendent poetry stars like Maya Angelou and Robert Frost. More locally, folks who have been given Keys to the City include Portland High School graduate Zoe Romano, who in 2011 became the first woman to make an unsupported 3,000-mile transcontinental run to raise money for Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as the bands moe. and Mumford & Sons for significant concerts in the city in 2008 and 2012, respectively.

Seth Koenig

About Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.