Richard Blanco was born in Madrid in 1968, immigrating as an infant with his Cuban-exile family to the United States. He was raised and educated in Miami, earning a BS in civil engineering and a MFA in creative writing from Florida International University. Blanco has been a practicing engineer, writer, and poet since 1991. He has traveled extensively in his adult life, living and working throughout Europe and South America. He has taught at Georgetown University, American University, Writer’s Center, and Central Connecticut State University. Blanco currently resides in the tranquil mountains of Bethel, Maine.
Blanco's books, in order of publication, are City of a Hundred Fires (1998), Directions to the Beach of the Dead (2005), Looking for the Gulf Motel (2012), One Today (2013), Boston Strong (2013), For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey (2013), and The Prince of los Cocuyos (2014).
In 2013, Blanco was chosen to serve as the fifth inaugural poet of the United States, following in the footsteps as such great writers as Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. Blanco performed "One Today," an original poem he wrote for the occasion, becoming the youngest and first Latino, immigrant, and openly gay writer to hold the honor.
Following the inauguration, Blanco continued connecting communities through occasional poetry. He has written and performed occasional poems for organizations and events such as Freedom to Marry, the Tech Awards, and the Fragrance Awards, and at the 2015 re-opening of the U.S. Embassy in Havana. In May of 2013, Blanco wrote "Boston Strong," a poem he performed at the Boston Garden Benefit Concert and at a Red Sox game at Fenway. Following his performances, he released a limited-edition Boston Strong chapbook, with all proceeds going to those most affected by the Boston Marathon bombings.
Blanco has received numerous honors for his writings and performances, including an honorary doctorate from Macalester College and being named a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. His first book, City of a Hundred Fires, received the prestigious Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize. His second book, Directions to the Beach of the Dead, won the PEN/American Beyond Margins Award. His third book, Looking for The Gulf Motel, received various accolades, including a Tom Gunn Award, Maine Literary Award, and Paterson Prize. The Prince of los Cocuyos won a Lambda Literary Award and Maine Literary Award. His poems have appeared in countless literary journals and anthologies, including Best American Prose Poems and Ploughshares.